The summer is long over since my last post in this series, and tomorrow marks a whole new year.
A lot changed since that last post we’ve had a presidential election and the first vaccines are (slowly) rolling out to hopefully put an end to this pandemic before next summer.
Though in the more immediate term, things seemed to get better before getting worse.
The first big changes is just how fancy the outdoor dining parklets became. And yes, I know they’re not the same thing as parklets legally but the difference is negligible for most practical perspectives.
Many of the newer ones took on a more patio-like appearance with patio umbrellas, flooring level with the sidewalk, and even plants and grass.
If nothing else this at least gave people with design and light construction skills some work during the pandemic.
Another big change to outdoor dining was trying to bring the outside in. Above we see whiskey-focused bar Elixir trying to entice patrons with an outdoor TV showing a football game, despite not having a reputation as a sports bar.
One of the more alarming changes were the outdoor dining spaces that seemed to all but forget what “outdoor” means, complete with roofs. When the whole point is to maximize airflow to reduce the rate of transmission these types of parklets seem ill-advised.
Then again, this whole program was put together with unclear guidelines and it’s not reasonable to expect restaurant owners to be infections disease experts.
Eventually other businesses clamored to restart operations outdoors, sometimes to unusual looking results like the gym in the photos above that was able to move some of their equipment out to the sidewalk.
Some of these seemed a little questionable from a legal perspective. For example at a gym if I’m just walking by and someone drops a dumbbell on my toes, is that their fault or the gym’s fault?
The answer to that question and many others would never be put to the test though as far as I know, as with all this new outdoor activity — as well as a very short-lived experiment in “limited capacity” indoor dining — infection rates went up again, hospitals were running out of capacity, and it was time to go back into lockdown mode.
In early December the state began rolling out stay at home orders again, just like at the beginning of the pandemic. A whole bunch of new signs appeared out on the streets telling us to stay home and warning of airborne transmission. This is an about-face from the focus on washing your hands that public health officials first suggested about nine months ago.
The last of the three posters above initially looks like it’s from the Health Department, but if you look closely it’s not: it’s an anti-racism poster from the Human Rights Commission telling people to stop attacking Asians. Perhaps even sadder than the pandemic is that something like this even needs to be said at all.