When Will We Get Back to Normal After COVID-19?


Seven months ago, wearing face coverings and staying socially distance wasn’t on our radars. Now, we wonder how we’ll get back to normal.

I stood outside a favorite Japanese restaurant waiting for my takeout when I struck up a conversation with a food delivery man about getting back to normal after the pandemic.

What will that look like? How will we know we’ve reached that point? How long will it take us to stop thinking about masks and social distancing?

Back in February, that restaurant was open to customers who would eat inside. They sat at tables spaced with very little difference between them. People dined with family and friends.

We never thought about a pandemic.

I don’t remember the last time I ate inside a restaurant. I don’t think I’ve done so since the first week of March. For a while, I missed it. I don’t anymore, oddly enough.

I still have my moments where I’m walking through a parking lot to go into a store and realize, before I reach the door, that I forgot my face mask. So I walk back to the car and grab one out of the glove compartment. Those instances are becoming more and more rare.

It has even reached the point at which I judge people (to a degree) by how they wear a face covering. If they don’t wear it over their nose, they lose points in my book. If they wear it around their chin, I quickly dismiss them as mental lightweights. I don’t know when — or why — I became a mask snob.

How long will it take?

The Flu Pandemic of 1918, also known as the Spanish Flu Pandemic, lasted into 1920. We’ve really only been dealing with COVID-19 since March of this year. Can you imagine this craziness lasting until early 2022?

Granted, we’ve improved healthcare technology by leaps and bounds. That hopefully means there will be a working vaccine next year. Once we have a successful vaccine option, that will likely open things up quickly.

Too many people want to get back to normal right this second, safety be damned. Even back in 1918, people responded then as they respond now. Some followed mask regulations in hopes of stopping the spread of COVID-19. Some only complied when it felt convenient, and in their mind, it often didn’t. Others, however, defied the science at every opportunity, wallowing in self-importance in the process.

We can only hope that when a vaccine is developed and found to be successful, enough people will take it to lower the risks for the rest of it. (I’ll take it. I get a flu shot every year and have never had any ill effects.)

When we resume “normal” operations, how will that feel? When we go to the grocery store without wearing a mask or dine inside a restaurant with friends and without social distancing, will it feel “normal?”

I wonder how long it will take for the nagging concern in the back of our minds about not taking precautions against COVID-19 to go away.

The earlier pandemic ended in 1920. How long into the 20s did it take for normal to really feel normal again?

Patrick is a Christian with more than 30 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.