COVID-19

As states lift restrictions, are people going back to stores and restaurants?

Marielle Segarra Jun 12, 2020
Heard on: Marketplace
HTML EMBED:
COPY
People dine on a restaurant patio in Connecticut in late May. Some people feel more comfortable dining outside at a restaurant but aren't ready to sit in a dining room yet. John Moore/Getty Images
COVID-19

As states lift restrictions, are people going back to stores and restaurants?

Marielle Segarra Jun 12, 2020
People dine on a restaurant patio in Connecticut in late May. Some people feel more comfortable dining outside at a restaurant but aren't ready to sit in a dining room yet. John Moore/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has decided to lift many of the state’s remaining restrictions on stores and restaurants, even as Georgia’s coronavirus cases and hospitalizations continue to climb.

Meanwhile, other states are seeing a jump in cases, including Arizona, Texas, Florida and California. A month ago, I talked to folks around the country about whether they were willing to go back to stores and restaurants as they reopened. I checked back in to see how things have changed.

A lot can change in a month. States have relaxed their restrictions, and many of us have relaxed, too.

When I last talked to Collin Adams, who lives in Kingsport, Tennessee, he and his wife were not going out to restaurants. They’ve started to make exceptions — like for their 10th anniversary a couple weeks ago.

“We made sure we kind of went not during a peak time,” Adams said. “[We] kind of pulled into the parking lot and looked to see if there was a wait time or anything. It was actually very, very well done.”

It wasn’t crowded, and the servers were wearing masks.

“In the back of my mind the whole time was ‘should I be doing this?'” Adams said. “I won’t say it was the most enjoyable experience.”

In Nashville, Dana Franks said she isn’t going out much. It kind of depends on how careful she thinks the restaurant or store is being. She eats at a nearby Waffle House.

“They have put up shower curtains between the booths, which is kind of weird, but I guess it’s effective,” Franks said. “I feel safe as can be in there because they really do take a lot of care.”

She’s also gone to the shoe store and tried on some sandals. She’s not too worried about transmission through her feet.

Then there’s James Smith in Phoenix. His sister had the virus more than a month ago and she’s still recovering. He has eaten at one restaurant, outdoors. He’s not comfortable with sitting inside. 

“We just saw notices from two restaurants saying, ‘We had somebody here with COVID, we’re going to close down,'” Smith said.

None of the folks I talked to said they’ve gone back to normal. They’re just not quite there yet.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

Pfizer said early data show its coronavirus vaccine is effective. So what’s next?

In the last few months, Pfizer and its partner BioNTech have shared other details of the process including trial blueprints, the breakdown of the subjects and ethnicities and whether they’re taking money from the government. They’re being especially transparent in order to try to temper public skepticism about this vaccine process. The next big test, said Jennifer Miller at the Yale School of Medicine, comes when drug companies release their data, “so that other scientists who the public trust can go in, replicate findings, and communicate them to the public. And hopefully build appropriate trust in a vaccine.”

How is President-elect Joe Biden planning to address the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic turmoil it’s created?

On Nov. 9, President-Elect Joe Biden announced three co-chairs of his new COVID-19 task force. But what kind of effect might this task force have during this transition time, before Biden takes office? “The transition team can do a lot to amplify and reinforce the messages of scientists and public health experts,” said Dr. Kelly Moore, associate director for the Immunization Action Coalition. Moore said Biden’s COVID task force can also “start talking to state leaders and other experts about exactly what they need to equip them to roll out the vaccines effectively.”

What does slower retail sales growth in October mean for the economy?

It is a truism that we repeat time and again at Marketplace: As goes the U.S. consumer, so goes the U.S. economy. And recently, we’ve been seeing plenty of signs of weakness in the consumer economy. Retail sales were up three-tenths of a percent in October, but the gain was weaker than expected and much weaker than September’s. John Leer, an economist at Morning Consult, said a lack of new fiscal stimulus from Congress is dampening consumers’ appetite to spend. So is the pandemic.

Read More

Collapse

As a nonprofit news organization, our future depends on listeners like you who believe in the power of public service journalism.

Your investment in Marketplace helps us remain paywall-free and ensures everyone has access to trustworthy, unbiased news and information, regardless of their ability to pay.

Donate today — in any amount — to become a Marketplace Investor. Now more than ever, your commitment makes a difference.