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What Does Soft Reopening Mean For Us?

Clearly the world has had enough of pandemic lockdown. This country is more nutso than it’s ever been, and that’s saying something. At first we came together over the existential threat, demonstrating the unity we so desperately needed, pandemic or not. That lasted about 3 weeks. I call it the “Family Lockdown Boogie” era, to commemorate that wonderful video and all the other art that arose from those early days.

Then the shine wore off and the reality of bringing the world to a screeching halt set in. Those among us of lesser emotional constitution blamed government officials for the economic fallout, rather than accept the reality that an invisible-to-the-naked-eye organism could wield so much control over us.

People in this audience don’t have the luxury of scapegoating. We understand all too well what this virus is and how it can mess us up. Many of us have compromised immunity. I have lungs that have survived a crush injury. It could go either way for me—either they’re super strong from the healing and the winter bike riding, or they’re extra vulnerable. There’s no way to know without contracting the virus, and I’ve chosen to avoid it hard, no matter what else the world is doing.

I admit I’m in a privileged position to make this choice; I live alone in the woods and have much more control over my exposure level than most people do. That said, my favorite hobby is bike touring and staying in the hostels around Vancouver and Vancouver Island. I love the close quarters with strangers from all over the world, the communal showers, the shared kitchen with dishes hand-washed with varying degrees of diligence. That’s a giant petri dish I’ll be denied for some time yet, but I think it’s helped to keep me healthy by exercising my immune system with the relatively harmless bugs spread by other healthy travelers.

My state, Washington, has (in my opinion) an excellent plan for reopening the economy. We are currently in Phase 1, still on stay-home orders. Each county must meet specific statistical criteria before they are allowed to move to Phase 2, which allows some non-essential businesses to reopen with safety precautions in place.

I get my mail at the UPS Store, and they have a good system. As an essential business, they’ve been open all along. They have blue taped squares on the floor where customers stand in line, and there’s a limit of 5 customers inside the store at any time. There’s an exit route marked on the floor in tape arrows, to keep you from walking past the people waiting in line. There are plexiglass barriers at the counter. I don’t like picking up the stylus to sign for my packages, but I’m allowed to ask the employee to make an X on my behalf. I feel like it’s a pretty safe place to go. If other businesses adopt similar practices, I’ll go to them. If it’s a free-for-all, no, thank you.

Our local swimming beach will allow swimming and encourage, but not enforce, distancing. Part of the lot will be cordoned off to limit the number of people there (bicycles are great for getting around parking limits). That’s going to be rough, because normally there’s an overflow lot into a field next door, and I walk a long way to get to the beach. Lucky for me, I can go in the morning when parents are at work. My upper body has suffered badly from not swimming, so that’s a thing I’ll try to do safely.

I have five dear friends in Canada I’m anxious to see as soon as the border reopens. Two of them are immunocompromised and I will wear a mask and keep physically distant from them. With one, I usually stay at her house, but I’ll stay overnight with other friends nearby who have a detached guest house so we can minimize direct exposure.

One thing reopening does mean is that the total viral load out there will increase, and it will take more energy to avoid exposure.

I’m going to keep on eye on the numbers as this soft-reopen moves along, and if there’s a spike, I’ll scuttle back to full quarantine, whether or not it’s mandated.

How about you? What’s your risk level, and what’s your plan?

What Does Soft Reopening Mean For Us?

Kristin Noreen

Kristin Noreen lives in Bellingham, Washington with two cats and her vintage touring bicycle, Silver. Her triple passions are animal rescue, long-distance bike touring, and writing. Her book, On Silver Wings: A Life Reconstructed, is about reinventing her life following a catastrophic injury.

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APA Reference
, . (2020). What Does Soft Reopening Mean For Us?. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 4, 2020, from


Last updated: 28 May 2020
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