It's hard to imagine that what's happened around the world over the past four months won't have a long-lasting effect upon the way that people think, feel and act in the years to come. The Covid-19 pandemic has been traumatic for everyone. The level of that trauma varies, of course. Some of us have lost loved ones. Others don't know of anyone who's caught the virus. But everyone has been affected by stay-at-home orders and resulting cultural chaos as the world looks for new ways to adapt and connect.
We've talked a bit around here about how the pandemic might affect the theme park experience. In the short term, obviously, we're looking at the elimination of meet and greets, events that gather large crowd in close quarters, and some hands-on experiences such as playgrounds and interactive displays.
But this goes far beyond theme parks, of course. My son just celebrated his birthday, and we realized that blowing out birthday candles just can't safely be a thing anymore. (My solution was knocking over a string of dominoes as you make your wish - one for each year.) Hugs and handshakes have given way to elbow bumps and then to bowing.
What else might change? One positive change that I would love to see come from this horrible situation is a global acceptance of wearing masks whenever you might be sick.
Associated in America, at least, with Asian cultures, mask-wearing just makes sense for everyone from a public health perspective. Basic physics says that if you want to stop the spread of germs coughed, sneezed, or exhaled, the simplest way to do that is to block them right at their source. A mask over a sick person's mouth and nose could help reduce the spread of countless illnesses, including the dreaded Covid-19.
Right now in the United States, we need everyone to wear a mask in public because this pandemic is so widespread in so many communities that containing it immediately must be our top national priority. Until we have universal and frequent testing to know exactly who is, or is not, infectious at any given moment, we need to just assume that everyone might be. So everyone should wear a mask when near others outside their household.
But even when this threat passes, mask use should become a regular custom whenever someone doesn't feel well or could have been exposed to an illness.
In theme parks, this would require a permanent change to admission policies that ban the wearing of masks. While that makes some sense from the perspective of promoting security and minimizing guest confusion as to who's actually a park character, it is more important for everyone's safety that potentially infectious people be wearing masks whenever they are in public.
Now, it would be ever better if people who didn't feel well were able to stay at home. But until everyone in America has paid sick leave, that ain't happening. So let's add another Covid-inspired change that I would like to see theme parks - and other public accommodations - make permanent: temperature checks.
Whether it's an individual forehead scan or walking past a body-temperature reader, parks should be able to identify guests with elevated temperatures, then take them aside to see what might be wrong. If they are sick, they should be sent back to their home or hotel to recuperate rather than allowed into a public space where they might infect others.
How often have you been laid up with a cold or flu because someone didn't stay home and didn't wear a mask to keep their cough or sneeze off you? If this pandemic has taught us anything, it should be the lesson that we are all part of global, national, local, and personal communities. And we share obligations to each of these communities - obligations which start with not bringing harm to others within them. And selfishness can kill.
So let's make this a habit, everyone - even when this pandemic is over (whenever that might be). Hang on to those masks. Wash them and keep them ready for the next time you get sick with anything. And even when community-wide mask orders go away, let us all let the parks know that we are okay with temperature checks becoming a permanent requirement to enter.
Stay safe, everyone.Tweet
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