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Pandemic restrictions are lifting; what comes next?


Editor’s note: The following is an opinion piece written by a KCSU staff member.

Spring of 2021 is the start of the age of vaccines. With the April 2 announcement that anyone over age 16 can be vaccinated against the coronavirus, young people are lining up all over the country to get their shots of the vaccine. With so many individuals getting protection from the virus, one can’t help but wonder what the near future will look like.

Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that individuals who are vaccinated against the coronavirus can be in public in small groups without masks. The CDC still requires individuals to wear masks in large public areas such as arenas or concerts. Additionally, the CDC advises individuals to avoid large events if necessary.

This announcement signals a major step forward in the fight against the virus, as this is the first time that the CDC has lifted any restrictions concerning social distancing and mask-wearing. It marks the start of a new phase in the pandemic: the transition into a post-COVID society.

Yet this transition might not be as easy and casual as it seems. For one thing, many people have already adjusted to mask culture. Some individuals might feel more safe wearing masks, even if they already have the vaccine. When encountering strangers, their immediate reaction might be to put on a mask or completely avoid face-to-face contact. When in public, it may be easier for people to continue to wear masks, even if they are in a small group.

Many people long to experience large venues full of unmasked people as was common before the pandemic. Yet to others that may seem like an old practice that can never happen again due to the fear of it turning into a superspreader event. It will take a long time before society can discover how to hold these large events and what they will look like.

Most businesses in Larimer County have already implemented social distancing guidelines. Restaurants and coffee shops spread tables out, grocery stores have a maximum capacity and concert venues require specific social distancing protocols. But for businesses, implementing safety precautions can sometimes be a lot easier than removing them because removing them might seem unnerving to consumers — even to those who are fully vaccinated.

Some of these precautions will eventually go away. As the CDC continues to remove restrictions, so will businesses. However, some safety precautions may be unnecessary to remove. For example, if a take-out restaurant inserted a glass pane between the consumer and the employee, removing that might seem unsanitary and inappropriate. After all, barriers still help prevent the spread of other viruses and bacteria as much as they slow the spread of the coronavirus.

As much as vaccines have helped slow the spread, the future is still highly uncertain. Additionally, the fear of another pandemic lies in the back of many of our minds. Yet we can be optimistic that this summer may have fewer restrictions than the last one. We may be able to enjoy activities once again in a similar way to how we once did. But in all likelihood, the future will never look exactly the same as the past.

Eliot Hutchinson can be reached at