Home Education 8 ways life could be different after cities reopen and quarantine ends

8 ways life could be different after cities reopen and quarantine ends

When will my city reopen? Here

8 ways life could be different after cities reopen and quarantine ends

Will you still need to wear a face mask when the world reopens?

James Martin/CNET

For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO website.

Mandatory face mask use all day long. Plexiglass dividers between you and everyone else. Temperature taking at schools. Trying on clothes while wearing plastic gloves. Coronavirus antibody testing before you’re cleared to return to the office. These are some of the measures that could go into effect as the coronavirus lockdown restrictions ease across US cities and states, and around the world.

The pandemic is far from over. New coronavirus infections are still occurring and public health officials are keeping track of a recently reported mystery illness that appears to be related to COVID-19 and is affecting children. Amid the fears and concerns over a second coronavirus wave, businesses are slowly reopening in an effort to keep flagging economies from collapse. 

But when will it happen, and what will life be like? Here are some ways that certain sectors of society could reopen, from restaurants to gyms. Keep in mind that your local situation could differ, and that this story updates frequently as the global coronavirus changes.

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Restaurants and bars: Hours, service, masks or no?

Many restaurants are already open for some combination of delivery, take-out or curbside pickup. As restaurants reopen, those that allow dine-in customers may place patrons six feet apart and restrict capacity by, say, half, in order to uphold social distancing. You might order through a plexiglass divider at a counter, or your server might stand at a distance or wear a mask. 

Menus might be disposable, or laminated and disinfected after each use. Servers could also wear plastic gloves. In the warmer months, it’s possible we’ll see outdoor patios opened to a limited number of seated orders, with tables and chairs sanitized between parties. Limited hours are probable. In Austria, for example, restaurants, cafes and bars will reopen May 15, but must close at 11 p.m., Reuters reported.

The most significant challenge dine-in service faces is the inability to wear a face mask while eating. If the coronavirus can transmit through droplets when you speak and breathe, in addition to spreading via coughs and sneezes, eating indoors could be riskier. It also isn’t clear if air conditioning causes air flow patterns that could infect healthy diners if a customer winds up being asymptomatic. It’s worth noting that the World Health Organization has said airplane ventilation systems present a fairly low risk of transmission.


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How shopping malls come back to life, changed

Simon, the largest shopping mall property in the US, announced that it will reopen malls in over 20 states by May 16. Not every store within the mall may open at once. For example, individual retailers may choose to keep their doors shut. To help limit the spread of COVID-19, single-use items like shopping bags and coffee cups will be used exclusively, and shoppers will be encouraged to wear face masks. Employees definitely will be.

Store hours will be limited, for example from 11 a.m to 7 p.m. most nights, closing early so cleaners can rigorously disinfect common areas and bathrooms. Every other urinal will be off-limits to encourage social distancing, and there are protocols in place if employees get sick. 

You may have to line up outside a shop to go into a crowded shop, and it isn’t clear if there will be rules about touching items or trying on clothes. 


Like many businesses, gyms put people — and their bodily fluids — in close proximity.

César Salza/CNET

Airplanes and airports: More pleasant, or less so?

Face masks post-security and during your long flight? How about limited meals or only bottled water to drink? Most airline lounges are closed to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. One journalist described his recent flight as “worse than I thought it would be,” describing withering looks and frayed nerves, despite the fringe benefits of no middle seats, quiet airports and quick trips through security. Here’s what the major US airlines are doing now.

Gyms, hair salons, movie theaters

Essential businesses such as grocery stores, pharmacies and hardware stores are open, but smaller retail shops, like clothing boutiques, hair salons and malls, often aren’t. It’s likely that as these stores reopen, the number of customers allowed in at the same time could be based on the size of the retail space, as is the current situation in Germany, according to The Guardian

As with American shopping malls, hygiene precautions could also be put in place, like sanitizing your hands before and after leaving the business, and wearing face masks or coverings. It’s possible that some services might be temporarily suspended if they put people’s faces too close together.

Senior hours are already in effect in many grocery stores — giving people over 65 the opportunity to shop before the general population could carry over to these other retailers. 


Many businesses have begun using cashless payments and a safety precaution.

James Martin/CNET

Schools and universities: Staggered schedules?

The question on every parent’s lips: When will schools reopen? In some countries, it already has, with students subject to temperature checks, distance seating and rules about how often to wash hands and how many children can play together at once. Denmark was among the first European countries to reopen schools, at least for younger students. Beijing and Shanghai reopened classes for older students, with both teachers and students wearing face masks. 

Where schools are closed, school administrators, government officials and teachers are all scrambling to create policies that keep students from potentially transmitting the virus when doors reopen. Some municipalities are exploring the potential to stagger student meals and schedules throughout the day.


Many trails are closed to discourage people from gathering.

James Martin/CNET

Beaches, hiking and nature trails

The Grand Canyon, Yellowstone and large parts of Yosemite National Park are closed as part of the National Park Service’s coronavirus prevention efforts, but some will see phased reopening. For instance, the Great Smoky Mountains is reopening in a phased approach. 

Many local beaches and nature trails are too, to discourage groups of people from congregating. Meanwhile, in Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis has given municipalities the authority to reopen the economy and outdoor spaces, with social distancing practices in place. Jacksonville’s mayor officially reopened beaches during set hours and limited gatherings to 50 people. 

Concerts, sports, amusement parks and other major events

The state of Georgia is lifting lockdown restrictions that would see gyms, tattoo parlors, hair salons and elective medical procedures reopen as long as distancing and hygiene guidelines are enforced.  

Meanwhile, major gatherings worldwide continue to be canceled, including Germany’s iconic annual Oktoberfest celebration, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and most major sporting events. Amusement parks like Disneyland and music festivals that attract large crowds are also closed, cancelled or postponed until further notice. 


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Lockdown could happen again, we’re warned

One continuous refrain from public health officials is that reopening economic and social life too soon could trigger a resurgence in coronavirus cases and deaths related to the COVID-19 disease. Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warned of continued outbreaks if states open prematurely. 

Meanwhile, Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel, lifted restrictions, but warned that a second wave of infections could come. She echoed the words of WHO leader Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus who said, in a coronavirus briefing last month, that “lifting restrictions too quickly could lead to a deadly resurgence.” 

It happened in Singapore, which was thought to have the coronavirus outbreak contained and under control before more cases erupted. In China, a spike in positive cases has reportedly resulted from travelers reintroducing the virus upon their return.

Whichever phase of reopening you’re in keep in mind these seven things you shouldn’t expect to do when lockdown ends, 16 practical coronavirus tips to help stay safe in public and information about what to do if someone you live with gets sick.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.


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