Our lives are being changed by COVID-19 – permanently

I just read on OregonLive.com that gas stations will be permitted to temporarily go to self-service to reduce exposure of employees to coronavirus as they take payment and interact closely with customers.

I’ve often thought that handing a credit card across is one of the best ways to give or get a cold. Now that we have a turbocharged version of the cold, we’re all looking at all the ways we might be opening ourselves to risk. This is going to create some lasting changes as we do things differently to prevent contamination.

Other examples of processes that are under the microscope and how they may change in the future:

  • public transportation seating is very close together for extended periods – fewer people may travel on planes, or airplane ventilation and cleanliness may be managed differently
  • tightly packed lines at grocery stores, TSA security, athletic events, and more – we may see a different method for managing lines involving “Disney-esque” crowd control
  • public building and restroom door handles are needlessly high-touch – more of these may become automatic when you press a switch plate
  • public or workplace plumbing faucet handles – many of these are already touch-free, and many more will become so
  • point-of-sale systems that require the employee to handle customer’s credit card – more POS will be self-service
  • POS systems that require customers to touch the screen or buttons – more POS will allow touch-free (in their lingo, “contactless” payment like Samsung Pay, Google Pay, or Apple Pay
  • reusable shopping bags introduce more disease risk than expected – customers who are tired of wiping down their reusable bags are going to buy machine-washable cloth bags or some better alternative
  • using the customer’s own reusable drink cups pose a risk to restaurant workers – we may see that restaurants stop this practice forever, even for drive-ins
  • sick leave for workers who are in contact with customers regularly is inadequate to protect public health in extreme cases like coronavirus – more employers may go to a more flexible sick leave policy (or be forced to by law)
  • recycling is now so dangerous for the workers that stores in many states are not required to accept bottles and cans for refunds – in the future, there may be more stringent requirements about rinsing or protective equipment for workers

As the effect ripples through our nation and even our world, we can only be sure of one thing – that we will encounter more surprises and challenges in the future.

What we’re going through is going to change how we work, shop, play, celebrate, and care for ourselves and others.

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