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May 31, 2020

Coronavirus pandemic: From handshakes to buffets, many things may become obsolete

Top Story

May 31, 2020

NEW YORK: The coronavirus has impacted nearly every aspect of American life, and many changes are likely to continue far into the future.

Shaking hands, once a way to greet new friends or colleagues, may no longer be viewed as a safe practice, as it has the potential to spread bacteria from one person to another, foreign media reported on Saturday. Similarly, buffets, in which hundreds of hands touch the same utensils over open food containers, now seem more like Petri dishes than a nice place to have dinner.

Take a look at all the things that might be obsolete after the coronavirus pandemic.

In April, Dr. Fauci said, “As a society, just forget about shaking hands. We don’t need to shake hands. We’ve got to break that custom.” Many buffet and salad bar restaurants have closed in the wake of the pandemic. Salad bar chain, Sweet Tomatoes, recently shuttered all 97 of its locations nationwide due to its inability to continue operations during the pandemic.

Previous investigations have found touch screens, like those found in fast-food restaurants, have bacteria on their surfaces.

In a statement released on March 21, New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu said, “With identified community transmission, it is important that shoppers keep their reusable bags at home given the potential risk to baggers, grocers and customers.”

According to Dr Isaac Bogoch from the University of Toronto, “If people are sharing food, the virus may contaminate the food that they’re eating or on the fork or knife that they’re sharing. And that’s a perfect way to transmit this to other people.” Dr. Neel Gandhi, a professor of infectious diseases, epidemiology and global health at Emory University, told ESPN, “When we talk about maximum transmission [of the coronavirus], the hands are the place where I focus on the most. When we talk about the high-five and also the handshake, this is almost the perfect pathogen to spread it.”

Lines across the country now have 6-foot markers to keep people spaced out while they wait. Lines for grocery stores in cities are snaking around blocks as shoppers attempt to safely distance while they wait to enter reduced-capacity establishments.

In the first weeks of the pandemic, all toll booths in the New Jersey metro area banned cash. Drivers with E-ZPass, a system of collecting payment electronically, would face no changes, while drivers without it would be billed by mail.

On May 19, Rolling Stone reported “America’s first pandemic concert” by blues-rock band Bishop Gunn in Fort Smith, Arkansas. The venue welcomed 200 fans, down from its usual 1,000, and required them to wear masks and sit in assigned seats set up for social distancing. Fans also had temperature checks before they were allowed in, and restroom capacities were limited to 10 people at a time.