A look at our new normal as states reopen

The doors crack open on your favorite restaurant, down the street.

Will you rush inside, slide onto a barstool, wait for your table and talk it up with strangers? Or, will you pull on your mask, keep your head down and grab takeout for home?

Soon the decision on how to live may be your own again.

No matter your personal philosophy, some things will have changed around you. Here’s our prediction on how it all shakes out.

self-reliance will be on the rise

A global supply of food had lowered prices and made items more accessible to a greater number of consumers. But, this has also left us open to problems with supply chains, evident in those empty grocery store shelves.

Raise your hand if you purchased tomato plants for the first time. Raise your other hand if you’ve contemplated an entire vegetable garden this year–including zucchini, on your apartment balcony–with store-bought bags of soil.

We will probably move toward more self-reliance and local-reliance. Home gardens, farmers markets, and local meat producers will become more popular.

companies that weren’t quick to adapt to changing rules will disappear

Companies that figured out how to switch to new models during the pandemic—for example, stores that shifted to deliveries for our vulnerable populations versus those that shuttered their doors—will dominate.

Interestingly, government support for businesses could slow the weeding out of inefficient models. For more on this listen to this podcast from the Harvard Business Review.

technology that promotes less contact will continue to grow.

We’ve gotten better at e-commerce, telemedicine and working from home. Why did we put up with taking a day off work to talk to a doctor for five minutes in order to get a prescription refill for acne medicine? These no-contact models are efficient, cost-effective and here to stay.

we’ll learn to interact differently

It’s true: the first Zoom happy hour was a little clunky. There’s that awkward set up, everyone talks at once, then everyone stops talking, the dogs bark at some imminent threat they plan to take down three feet from your monitor, and, of course, there’s that unfortunate moment when you forget to mute.

We will continue to improve our communication through technology. Zoom, Skype and Facetime will be more widely used, including by those populations that have traditionally been slow to enter the market.

A recent survey found that people over age 60 are using technology more frequently during this time to shop for groceries, meet virtually with friends and pay bills online.

privacy rules may relax

Contact tracing is the process by which patients with COVID-19 trace the people with whom they’ve interacted so that they can isolate and therefore prevent the spread of the virus. In order to effectively contact trace, we might need a reduction in privacy rules.

For example, South Korea is aggressively using cell phone data to track COVID-19 patients and their contacts, a move that would probably be seen as a violation in the US, but that also is responsible for the exemplary containment of the outbreak. As of mid-May, South Korea (total population 51 million) had 260 deaths due to COVID-19. By contrast, as of this week, the US had over 85,000 (of a population of 330 million).

work from home

Work will likely be more remote, where possible. This won’t be universally well-received: Younger workers often have worse working conditions at home than older colleagues.

With remote work, and less need to be near home offices, there could also be more movement out of expensive cities.

sharing economy

If Airbnb, Lyft, and Uber thrive post-pandemic they’ll probably need to find cues to indicate that they are sanitized (and therefore safe).

restaurants

Restaurants will be less populated, perhaps at around 25% of capacity. Temperature checks might be used to qualify diners to enter. People are desperate to go out, however, so restaurants that lean into changes should be able to survive.

Check out a Virginia restaurant that will use mannequins in period costumes to help with social distancing while adding to the dining experience.

travel

Air travel, subways, buses all will be at reduced capacities and more reluctant riders. Domestic travel is likely to be more popular than international travel.

public events

Football games, concerts and beer gardens won’t return any time soon. Restaurants, malls and churches all will suffer.

workouts

Workouts from home will be the trend. Online classes, home equipment and virtual sessions will take the place of neighborhood gyms with questionable cleanliness.

international issues

We’re likely to be vulnerable to provocations by Iran; to experience an increase in migration in general (from areas where COVID is ripping through populations); to have instability due to economic hardships in emerging economies (like Mexico, Turkey, Ukraine and others); to see political instability as people protest government responses to COVID; to continue to see a boost to ISIS, whose attacks have increased internationally; and to have competition for global dominance from China, an increasingly strong yet continually problematic player.

For more, check out this podcast by Michael Morell, former acting director of the CIA.

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