A boy plays in the sand at the beach next to the wharf in Capitola
What awaits us Tuesday and beyond?
(Via Pixabay)
The Here & Now

Here comes ‘Super Tuesday’: Will we magically transport back to a 2019 existence on June 15?

As California drops pandemic restrictions Tuesday, it’s up to the rest of us to determine what lessons of the COVID-19 lockdown will remain — and we at Lookout want to hear from you, our readers and members, about what you’re leaving behind and what you’re bringing along into the post-June 15 world.

There’s a reason I’m not the governor’s media director.

When it was announced in May that the state of California would fully reopen its economy by June 15, and that restrictions such as the color-coded county-by-county tier system would be dropped, as the state’s photo-op czar, I would have probably insisted on some kind of cheesy crowd-pleasing gesture.

I might have dragged Gov. Gav out in front of the state Capitol in Sacramento to fire a starter’s pistol in the air, or reconfigured the Hollywood sign to read “We’re Back, Baby!” Actually, I have a long list of truly terrible ideas.

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Real life, however, doesn’t conform very well with such performative signals or stark on-off switches. Last week, Gov. Newsom said that California’s state of emergency order would continue past June 15. New rules about wearing masks in the workplace — masks are still required unless everyone in the room is vaccinated, and mask requirements won’t change on planes, buses and trains — plus some individual private businesses choosing to continue mask and distancing policies means the June 15 all-clear order won’t be absolute.

Still, if there is a finish line to this pandemic, June 15 is as good a candidate as any — at least in California, which has emerged from the crisis better than most states. If nothing else, psychologically, it will feel different.

But will it feel “normal” after Tuesday, like 2019 all over again? Was the pandemic a blip on the otherwise unbroken curve of normal life? Or, like a giant earthquake, did it somehow alter the course of the river?

Beer Thirty in Soquel is among the many local spots to raise a glass to post-June 15 California.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

That’s what we at Lookout Santa Cruz are thinking about these days, and that’s where you, our readers and members, can help.

As the most prominent markers of the pandemic fade over time, what will be left behind? What has the pandemic permanently changed in your daily life?

In my work covering the arts and entertainment beat, for example, I’ve talked to countless musicians, theater directors and other performers, and a particular consensus has emerged about where we all go from here.

TELL US WHAT YOU THINK

What will your world look like post-June 15? Lookout wants to hear from you:

➤ Are you swearing off Zoom? Or does it still have a place in your life?

➤ Are you able to keep working from home? Or is your employer insisting you come back in person?

➤ If you’re still working from home a lot, are you sending your child to child care? Planning on being able to handle it from the home office?

➤ Is business way up in your line of work? Way down? Completely different in some other way?

➤ Are you going back to more in-person shopping? Or sticking with all the online ordering that became second nature amid the pandemic?

➤ Will you still hang out with your COVID pod? Back to old social habits? Mix the crews?

➤ How has the pandemic changed you? Your loved ones? For better, or worse, or some of both?

Send us an email at news@lookoutlocal.com

Yes, everyone is eager to return to live, in-person performance, but all that Zoom stuff, that new mode of communicating from living room to living room to people not just in your area code but from all over the world?

That’s not going to be just tossed aside. With all the investment, financial and emotional, that’s been made in online ways of communicating and transacting business, everyone is looking for a way to hold on to the best of the online realm while returning fully to the old ways.

I’m guessing there’s a strong parallel to that impulse for the rest of us as well. We’re looking for examples of people who are actively trying to strike a balance between the benefits of returning to pre-pandemic life and keeping what has worked for the past year and a half.

In the workplace, there is a push-pull debate beginning to emerge around productivity at home versus the office. Employers, on the hook for expensive office-space rents, might want a return to pre-pandemic normal. Rank-and-file workers, however, might be extremely reluctant to embrace the old commute again if they feel they’ve proved they can do the job just as well from home.

How does the calculus of child care change now that the world has opened back up? Are you still willing to find child care during work hours even if you’re only in the next room?

The pandemic has had wildly varying effects on different occupations. Are you a therapist? A real estate agent? A divorce lawyer? A financial planner? If you’ve seen some spike in demand for your services, or unforeseen behavior out there in the marketplace, we’d love to hear about it.

How has the pandemic changed your commercial behavior? Ordering online can be seductive, but I wonder how much consumers will want to support local brick-and-mortar just to embrace the familiar experience of shopping.

We’ve all heard about or experienced some of the positive unintended consequences of the pandemic. A Santa Cruz couple I know recently told me about how they had forged new and meaningful relationships with people they’ve lived near for years. “It’s a real neighborhood now,” they said.

Will those new commitments endure when we all have to go back to normal? How has the pandemic changed the fundamental experiences of humanity? Grief? Love? Belonging?

Since the world came to an abrupt and jarring halt back in March 2020, many have recalibrated their notions of what is meant by the “good life.” The uncomfortable and often brutal adaptation to living with a worldwide pandemic has prodded many people to reassess their behavior as citizens and consumers, parents and partners, workers and professionals, friends and neighbors.

On Tuesday, when we’re all finally able to emerge from our various emotional and psychological hidey-holes, one question will remain: How has this arduous and uncomfortable period in history changed us as individuals?

Please share your experiences and observations about what might snap back into place post-pandemic, and what’s forever changed, for better and worse. Let’s figure out the lay of the land in this new world together.

Send us an email to news@lookoutlocal.com.