There’s been a lot of talk the past two months about the “new normal” foisted upon us by the coronavirus pandemic.

We’ve hunkered down in self-quarantine — closing schools, businesses, government offices and churches, all in the name of safety. We’ve learned to practice social distancing; worked around the shortage of basic necessities such as toilet paper, hand sanitizers and disinfectants; and accepted grudgingly the realization that for now it’s best to delay interactions with loved ones not living in our homes.

Those were just the first steps in the “new normal” that’s likely to impact our lives much longer than we had hoped.

Now that more businesses have been cleared to reopen, we’re getting a better feel of what “normal” means for activities that we once took for granted.

Dining rooms at restaurants will no longer be packed. Diners will be spaced out. Servers will be wearing masks and gloves for protection. What was once a casual, refreshing experience will have a more serious, health-conscious feeling.

Church services will lose some of the family atmosphere that’s important to congregants. There will be no more hugging and handshaking as you enter the doors. Seating will be spread out. Ministries that focus on children and small groups have been put on hold. And face masks will muffle the “amens” and other audience comments sprinkled throughout sermons.

Visits to government offices and large retailers will now be orchestrated — floor markings tell you where to stand as you wait to be served; some offices will require you don a face mask before entering; glass or plexiglass barriers will shield clerks from clients.

In the “new normal,” we may not be able to enjoy leisure activities such as concerts, plays, movies, or sporting events in the same way we have in the past.

We are creatures of habit. Routines help us feel safe, and give us a sense of purpose. Our previous norms have been shattered. The loss of structure and daily routines hurts.

The toll the coronavirus has had on our economy, our routines, our institutions, our governments has forced a reset of what “normal” means.

We must start to embrace the new future in all aspects of our lives — social, personal, professional and financial.

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(2) comments

Marion Scott

I agree with you, Mr. Johns, up to a point. I too, choose not to live in fear. I do not wear a mask unless it's absolutely required, as it was last Sunday at my church. However, I plan not to attend church again until masks are no longer required. As a hearing-impaired person it is difficult to follow people that are talking without seeing their faces as well. At 88 years of age, I'm also supposedly more in danger than the average person. There are knowledgeable medical people that have stated their concerns about mask-wearing, that it is not healthy for people to be wearing them, especially for sustained periods of time.

Chuck Johns

In other words, we are to live in fear. Like sheep. Disease of one sort or another kills tens of thousands and more each year in this country. Why are we so afraid of this one ? I have many of the comorbidities that make this virus deadly to me, but I refuse to live in fear. May the masks muffle the bleating of the sheep, for I will not waste what time I have listening to them.

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