Tuesday, May 5 – Beach Crazy, Nail Crazy, 50 States of Covid Crazy
By Kait Marcelle SAN DIEGO

A new “normal” begins. We see our disjointed US states start to open back up. Still, with no widespread testing. I don’t understand yet how the opening is possible until mass testing is done, but hey, I’m not in charge, nor would I want to be. I’ve seen reports of clusters reigniting already, and cities going back into relative lockdown soon after. The US form of lockdown, however, which is; no one is on the same page, all friends and family have a different opinion, you can still mostly go anywhere, and get everything you need or want. The actual spread of this virus is simply left up to our individual tenacity, willingness, and persistence at this point.
With such a diverse and large population, we must take all areas individualities into account. Primarily where I live, we are just on a continuation of our original shelter in place orders. I don’t necessarily blame those fighting back against restrictions that are in a much more spread out communities. These areas can and should be treated differently. My city is still “essential items only,” shelter in place until further notice.

As other states open up nonessentials and we see hair and nails being tended too, my state is increasing public mandates. Now, not having a face-covering in public places such as grocery stores imposes a misdemeanor charge from the state to anyone who does not comply. With these new face-covering mandates, we also see our first weekend of beach restrictions lifting in nearly seven weeks. Different rules are observed depending if the area is maintained by the state or national parks system, or if it is a city-maintained area. Due to the epitome of hot sunny beach days happening frequently, many beaches saw increased use by those who are stir crazy after seven weeks of lockdown. For Southern California, the beach economy is a force to be reckoned with. Southern California beach culture is something so pervasive it’s recognized nearly all around the world with the mere utterance of “Hey Dude!” Most can understand the sun-drenched and chill tone. This natural positive excitement comes with the happy, carefree lifestyle that surfers have cultivated here for generations.

This weekend while heading to my parents to be their tech support, grocery delivery, and go on a little walk with them, I saw something peculiar. A cyclist was cruising down the middle of a slow road, without a care in the world that cars also travel here. I thought the quarantine might have rubbed off on this cyclist who is clearly used to fewer cars these past two months, and patiently waited until I could pass. It’s not often you see cyclists and pedestrians taking the roads back from the automobiles. To help people get some fresh air, ease the cabin fever, and stay healthy through movement, we have seen a “slow streets” initiative on some local roads. Specific streets are marked off (although this was not the case in my experience above), to be pedestrian-friendly. They are to be shared equally with pedestrians and bicyclists. The “slow streets” initiative is thought to help ease the physical tension of families who have been mostly in their houses for coming up on two months now. The opening of the full streets helps maintain our six feet rule during increased foot traffic.

What is our new normal? Can we turn this into the beginnings of something greater, or will we continue to interact with the world how we once did? Do we return to normal as soon as we can and chase away the natural habitat again? I, for one, don’t want to go back to normal. As devastating as this has been for humans, it certainly has been great for planet earth. We’ve all seen reports across the globe of drastically reduced emissions, and animals are returning to places previously uninhabited. Is there any denying that some beauty has already come from this tragedy? As we see the earth heal, we watch more people die. Perhaps we were the problem all along.