We all keep hearing about we just have to tough it out through Easter, and everything’s going to be totally back to normal. Spoiler Alert: it’s not. Indeed, the end of this endlessly-cited “15 Days” is on Tuesday! So there seems to be this cultural meme being bandied about that we’re just a few days away from ending this thing. We ain’t.
Of course, at some point, things will start to drift back to normal. In sharp contrast to the opinion of our ostensible leadership, however, I don’t think an enormous “pent-up demand” is suddenly going to explode into the former capitalist society of ours. I think it’ll vary tremendously. Off the top of my head:
Green Light – these are the categories that will most swiftly return to normal
- Grocery Stores – Shelves will be replenished. Shoppers will return. There will still be masks and gloves, but this is about the most basic day to day thing that people do.
- The Workplace – Likewise, people need to get back to work. Here, again, there will be social distancing, and a distinct lack of tongue-kisses between bosses and underlings.
- Retail Stores – As St. Carlin told us so many times, “buying stuff” is the national pastime. Americans needs to distract themselves from how bankrupt their lives are, so they will trot back to the mall to pay for stuff they don’t need with money they don’t have.
Yellow Light – these are categories that will ease back into normal life, but will definitely feel different for a while.
- Air Travel – The demand is going to stay quite lax for months. I suspect tickets are going to be dirt cheap. People will want as many empty seats as possible. Expect plenty of mask wearers.
- Restaurants – People are going to be so sick of eating at home, they’re going to want to eat anywhere else. That, plus the fact many restaurants are very small businesses, and patrons want to help out.
- Commuting – Subways, trains, ferries, and other modes of getting to and from work (assuming you’re not on Zoom all the time) will be required, and, masks notwithstanding, this should slowly ramp back up. I suspect a portion of folks who used to take public transportation will just drive their cars alone, however.
Red Light – here are the categories I think will be affected for years to come.
- Cruises – ‘Nuff said. I’m not sure where lazy, obese people will wind up sitting around doing nothing, but it won’t be a floating petri dish.
- Big Performances – Imagine a big mob at a concert, complete with crowd-surfing, sweaty bodies, and shoulder-to-shoulder humans. People are going to “nope” right out of there.
- Movie Theaters – This won’t be as repulsive as concerts, but this is generally the same idea. The entire notion of being in a room with hundreds of strangers nearby just won’t have the appeal it once did.
And, in a very macro sense, I think the entire U.S./China relationship is altered (for the worse) forever. I found it absolutely hysterical the President off-handedly mentioned a “Phase 2” China deal. Seriously. It isn’t ever going to happen. Phase 1 was a joke, but Phase 2 is science fiction.
Simply stated, sometimes things change, and they can never, ever go back.