5 Types of Small Businesses Getting Hammered Right Now

With COVID-19 forcing millions of Americans into their homes on virtual lockdown, small businesses everywhere are already struggling to keep the lights on. Others, meanwhile, are being forced to close in an effort to limit COVID-19’s spread. Here are a few types of businesses that may really be feeling the pain right now.

1. Bars

Many bars have been forced to close for the time being, which means owners and employees alike face weeks on end without a paycheck. And while inventory spoilage may not be a huge concern, as liquor and wine can hold up well in storage, it’s not very helpful when there are no customers to serve and the rent comes due.

IMAGE SOURCE: GETTY IMAGES.

2. Restaurants

Many restaurants across the country have been forced to limit their services to takeout and delivery only, and that’s hurting their bottom lines. Among the hardest hit are higher-end establishments that take in a lot of their revenue via liquor sales; when they can’t serve customers, they can’t serve drinks. Also, while it’s common practice to order in pizza or similarly low-priced foods, most people don’t want a $30 steak entree to go.

But even restaurants that already do a lot of takeout and delivery may be struggling, as customers are more hesitant to trust food preparers to take precautions. And waiters who rely on tips are certainly feeling the pain — with no one to serve, there’s no way to earn money.

3. Beauty salons and barber shops

The need to self-isolate has made the once simple act of getting a haircut less safe, and salons and barber shops are seeing much less foot traffic, if any at all. And given that in-person socializing is on pause, those who’d normally pay for manicures or other types of grooming are now skipping these services.

4. Event-planning companies

Event planners can do very well under normal circumstances, but when gatherings are banned nationwide, there’s not much planning to do. As such, companies that specialize in events, and the people who do so independently, face untold financial hardships in the weeks ahead.

5. Independent gyms and personal trainers

Gyms have largely been ordered to temporarily shut down across the country, and while corporate chains may have the cash reserves to withstand long-term closures, small, private training facilities most likely do not. Meanwhile, personal trainers who do a lot of in-home appointments are facing mass cancellations, leaving them stuck for the time being.

COVID-19 is, unfortunately, hurting a lot of small businesses and putting them at risk of shutting their doors permanently. Those who have already been laid off from their small business jobs can try filing for unemployment benefits in an effort to replace some of their former earnings.

Small business owners, meanwhile, should, when possible, get creative about ways to generate revenue. Bars should aggressively push gift cards that customers can order online or by mail and use later on to maintain some degree of cash flow. Restaurants with the ability to transition to takeout should consider changing their menus — and business models — to accommodate our new reality. Waiters can become food delivery personnel, and personal trainers can offer discounted remote sessions using online technology to earn some money rather than none.

It’s certainly not an easy time to own a small business. With the right strategy, however, some local establishments will hopefully manage to ride out the storm.

 

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Six reasons why some people refuse to stay home during a pandemic

CNN spoke to psychologists to find out why some people refuse to practice physical distancing during an epidemic. They give 6 reasons:

  • They think they are invulnerable. “They aren’t following social distancing because they believe they won’t get sick, even though it could prevent more vulnerable people from becoming infected.”
  • They won’t let a virus boss them around. “Exercising their defiance makes the virus seem smaller.”
  • They think it’s not their problem. “People who live in communities where infection isn’t widespread or officials haven’t imposed lockdowns may be less willing to distance themselves from others.”
  • They’re numbed by info overload. “When people’s media diets, social media feeds and conversations with loved ones consist of nothing but Covid-19, they may become desensitized to its severity.”
  • They favor individual freedom over the good of society. ” The Western world, and the US in particular, has long prized individual freedoms — sometimes even over community benefit.”
  • They’re lonely. “Human beings crave connection, and being denied social interaction for extended periods can sting.”

 

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45 Life Lessons Written by a “90-Year-Old” Woman That’ll Put Everything Into Perspective

Regina Brett knows a thing or two about handling life’s many curveballs. The author wrote down 50 life lessons the night before her 45th birthday after being diagnosed with breast cancer and turned them into a bestselling book, God Never Blinks: 50 Lessons For Life’s Little Detours. In the decade since then, these lessons have gone viral numerous times on the internet amid claims that Regina is 90 years old (she’s actually in her 60s) because of the wealth of knowledge she possesses. “I’m officially an urban legend,” she jokes on her website.

These universal lessons are relatable to anyone who needs a little reminder of what’s important in life, so keep scrolling to read them now, and remember to soak up the little moments whenever you can.

  1. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.
  2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
  3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
  4. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
  5. Pay off your credit cards every month.
  6. You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
  7. Cry with someone. It’s more healing than crying alone.
  8. Save for retirement, starting with your first paycheck.
  9. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
  10. Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.
  11. It’s OK to let your children see you cry.
  12. Don’t compare your life to others’. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
  13. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it.
  14. Life is too short for long pity parties. Get busy living, or get busy dying.
  15. You can get through anything if you stay put in today.
  16. A writer writes. If you want to be a writer, write.
  17. It’s never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.
  18. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take no for an answer.
  19. Burn the candles; use the nice sheets; wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special.
  20. Overprepare, then go with the flow.
  21. Be eccentric now. Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.
  22. The most important sex organ is the brain.
  23. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
  24. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: “In five years, will this matter?”
  25. Forgive everyone everything.
  26. What other people think of you is none of your business.
  27. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.
  28. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
  29. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.
  30. Believe in miracles.
  31. Whatever doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.
  32. Growing old beats the alternative — dying young.
  33. Your children get only one childhood. Make it memorable.
  34. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
  35. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.
  36. Don’t audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
  37. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful, or joyful.
  38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
  39. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
  40. The best is yet to come.
  41. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up, and show up.
  42. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
  43. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.
  44. Yield.
  45. Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift.

 

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These 3 Couples Got Engaged While Social Distancing Together

The dog looks surprised…

While stuck inside and self-isolating together, some couples are realizing they don’t have long-term potential, and others are enjoying spending a little extra time with their partner. But then there are a few who are actually getting engaged while social distancing. Instead of waiting to pop the question after the stay-at-home orders are lifted, they went ahead and did so while quarantined.

Kelsi, 26, and her fiancé, Russell, 31, knew they wanted to get engaged before the coronavirus pandemic began, but being stuck inside further solidified what they were both feeling. “We found the person that we not only loved deeply, but could be with 24/7 and still laugh constantly,” she tells Bustle. “Right now felt like the right time to get engaged because it felt like this ray of light; something that brought excitement for the future.”

For some, popping the question while quarantined instead of waiting for the pandemic to be over, may feel inherently counterintuitive. Why would you swap candles and violins for sweatpants and takeout? But for Jill, 24, and her fiancé, Casey, 25, self-isolating together for three weeks pushed the proposal to the forefront of their minds. Finally, they decided enough was enough.

He fashioned a ring out of a black twist-tie and copper wire. I said yes to this humble little ring and it means so much to me.

“I woke up one morning and I just knew I was ready to be engaged,” Jill tells Bustle. “Thankfully, he thought the same thing, so we decided to go for it right then and there.”

The two went for a socially-distant walk, and found themselves under a row of blooming cherry trees. “We weren’t fully prepared,” Jill says. Casey had custom-designed a ring, but since the jeweler was closed, he couldn’t pick it up. Instead, he fashioned one out of a black twist-tie and copper wire. “I said yes to this humble little ring,” Jill says, “and it means so much to me.”

Liana, 30, and her fiancé, Trav, 28, also had to think fast. They knew they wanted to get engaged, and Trav had been secretly planning a big event — he booked flights to ensure all their friends would be in town, and had even chartered a boat to celebrate on after the fact. But once the two began isolating, he had to rethink their plans and quickly come up with an alternative.

When Trav asked Liana to take a walk by the river, she became suspicious. “I knew something was [up] on the day,” she tells Bustle. “I had no idea I would get so nervous. So, while I was laugh-crying, he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him.”

Even though the experience of getting engaged while self-quarantining was “oddly romantic,” as Liana puts it, some couples still plan to redo the whole thing once the self-quarantine is lifted. “When this is all over, [Casey] plans to propose the way he intended, with a real ring,” Jill says, “so we get the best of both worlds!”

The same is true for Kelsi. “My birthday is on April 14, and we are doing a big Google Hangout with my friends and family,” she says. “Russell plans to propose again live on the video call.”

 

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Sadly There’s No Vaccine For People Being Stupid During The Coronavirus Outbreak

Disasters like the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic have a tendency to bring out the best and the worst in humanity, as people’s normal lives are altered and they face a host of new stressors from quarantines and social-distancing to previously unknown levels of uncertainty and fear.

It’s only been a little over a week now that things began getting truly strange in the United States and some people are dealing with it better than others. But this post isn’t about the people who are dealing with it well. This post is about the people who are losing their minds, losing their sh*t, and doing things like spreading conspiracy theories and straight-up licking toilet seats.

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What Will ‘New Normal’ Look Like For The Jersey Shore?

As we battle COVID-19 all over the world, we all know there will be a new normal for all of us when the dust settles. What will that look like for the Jersey Shore?

Some of the things that will always, or at least for a long time, be with us after this pandemic include frequent hand washing, no handshakes and social distancing. The first two are the easy part.

When you start to picture what a summer will look like at the Jersey Shore if social distancing becomes a long term thing, which some experts believe it will, it’s definitely a different picture than we’re used to.

All you have to do is apply social distancing to boardwalks, beaches and restaurants and you’ll see the different picture. One thin about the Jersey Shore is that we are a resilient bunch and we’ll figure it out.

We will take our new normal, get creative, and make it work. We have to. Our local businesses and the way of life we love depend on it. We have proven time and time again that we can take whatever gets thrown at us and handle it.

We’ve done it before and we’ll do it again. Yes, this may be the biggest challenge we’ve faced in a long time, but one thing social distancing can’t diminish is my belief in the people and the businesses of the Jersey Shore.

We can do this. Stay safe, stay healthy, and stay creative. We’ve never needed each other more than we do now.

Reach out and connect with others

During this time of social isolation, people everywhere are struggling with extreme loneliness. Being cut off from human contact and touch that we rely on daily can be detrimental for one’s mental and physical health. One easy way to give back during this time is to simply reach out to someone around you.

Feed those who are hungry

Whether it’s due to loss of wages or the inability to access school lunches, many are struggling to get proper meals right now. If you are able to, consider donating food or money to your local food bank. If you call, most will tell you what they are most in need of at the time. According to No Kid Hungry, around 22 million children in the United States rely on the free or reduced-price lunch they receive at school. Due to school closures, these children are likely not able to access lunch or other meals that they typically rely on. Consider donating to this organization to get meals to school children. It’s also important to remember that this is not a time to hoard supplies. Doing so could make someone else go without or force an elderly or immune compromised person to have to visit numerous stores, putting them at further risk of exposure.

Check in on your neighbors

One of the beautiful things that typically stems from disaster is a renewed sense of community. Take the time to check in on those who live around you, especially the elderly or those who are health-compromised. You can offer to pick up supplies while you’re out, limiting their exposure, and do a safely-distanced drop-off to a porch or doorway.

Support small businesses

As restaurants and small businesses have been shuttered, their owners and employees have been pushed to their financial limits. Show your support by purchasing takeout (remember you can freeze meals), shopping for merchandise online, or buying gift cards to use at a later time. We do not know when businesses like restaurants and bars will be able to fully reopen, so your support during this time will make a huge difference.

Foster or adopt a pet

Many animal rescue organizations are struggling during this time due to staff shortages and a reduction in donations. Since you’re likely working from home, consider fostering an animal in need. Few things are more calming than snuggling with a fluffy, warm creature during a difficult time, so contact your local animal rescue organization to see how you can help. If you’re unable to foster or adopt, consider a donation instead.

Give blood

Along with all events, blood drives across the country have been cancelled and the Red Cross is experiencing a dramatic drop in blood donations. If you’re able to give, Red Cross assures that they will keep you safe during the process through the highest standards of safety and infection control. You can schedule an appointment now to give at a location near you.

Thank essential workers

While we’re doing our part by staying home, many essential workers are on the frontlines, risking exposure to keep us all safe. Consider how you can show your gratitude to healthcare workers, your local fire and police departments, grocery store workers, postal workers, and delivery people. Small gestures like a meal delivery, handwritten note, a word of thanks, or added gratuity are great ways to express your appreciation. Get your family involved by hanging signs on the outside of your home celebrating these modern day heroes.

Make masks

The CDC now recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings like grocery stores and pharmacies. Their website also includes simple instructions for sewing your own mask. If you don’t know how to sew, they’ve got you covered with tutorials on how to make your own mask with a t-shirt or coffee filter, no sewing required. It’s important to remember not to purchase surgical masks or N-95 respirators, as these are critical supplies that are needed by healthcare workers and first responders.

Pay your Employees

If you are financially able to do so, continue to pay service workers, like nannies, house cleaners, or dog walkers, even if you are not able to utilize their services right now. The people who provide you with these services on a regular basis have likely taken a drastic cut in income during the pandemic, so what better way to say thank you to vulnerable workers than to continue to provide steady pay. If you are a home care worker, nanny, or house cleaner who is experiencing financial hardship during this time, you can apply for the Coronavirus Care Fund (CCF) to receive emergency financial assistance.

Stay home

Returning to the scene after a tornado can be traumatic and anxiety can persist for long periods of time. Seek professional help if you are having trouble coping. Natural disasters can be especially disorienting for children. Encourage young members of your family to freely express their feelings and offer them ongoing comfort.

Experiencing a natural disaster can disrupt each and every area of one’s life and cause devastating levels of loss. Reach out to those around you for support and seek out a local shelter if you need a place to stay, along with other essentials such as food or water. Above all else, focus on keeping yourself and those around you safe during this challenging time.

 

 

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How To Shop For Wine Safely During the Coronavirus Outbreak

I’ve always thought of liquor stores as “essential businesses!”

You’ve stocked up on food staples, queued up what to watch on Netflix, and now, you’ve only got one thing left to do: figure out how to safely get wine during the coronavirus outbreak. Well, wash your hands and listen up from the appropriate social distance, because there are still plenty of safe ways for you to have that glass of pinot.

Is It Safe To Go To Liquor Stores?

Like shopping for groceries during the coronavirus outbreak or any other sort of public activity, buying alcohol from a store comes with some risk. Being in a crowded place — like a liquor store during peak hours — poses a greater possibility of coming in contact with someone who is infected and contracting the novel coronavirus. As person-to-person contact (through the transmission of infected respiratory droplets) appears to be how COVID-19 is primarily spreading, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended gatherings over 10 people be canceled or postponed for at least the next few weeks. Limiting the number of shopping trips you make is likely the best option. And yes, that applies to liquor stores as well.

When you do go shopping, be mindful of what you touch and give fellow shoppers as much space as possible. And, in case it hasn’t been drilled into your brain already, don’t touch your face and wash your hands once you get home. If you want to be extra cautious, wipe down any bottles, cans, or products with non-porous surfaces you bought with soap and water or disinfectant.

Wine options may be limited as certain stores during the coronavirus outbreak.
Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Can I Get Wine Delivered To My House?

Unless you live in Alabama, Oklahoma, and Utah, chances are good you can have wine shipped to your doorsteps. (Those three states are the only ones that specifically prohibit direct-to-consumer shipment of alcohol, per the National Conference of State Legistalurres’s page on the direct shipment of alcohol in the United States. Apologies to all Alabamians, Oklahomans, and Utahns.)

While many states have some restrictions on what kind of alcohol can be shipped directly to consumers and how — Delaware requires orders to be processed and shipped through licensed wholesalers and Rhode Island allows alcohol to be shipped but only when purchased on-site — most states allow beer and wine to be shipped straight to you.

Are Wine Delivery Services Safe?

As with food delivery safety, liquor drop off comes with some hypothetical risk as well. There are a few key things to keep in mind to keep yourself and those around you safe: Limit contact with your delivery person, utilize contact-free drop off when possible, and wash your hands. Wiping down deliveries like you would items from the grocery stores will also help reduce your risk of interacting with the virus.

Popular liquor delivery service Drizly is implementing certain precautions in order to keep customers and drivers safe per their website. While contact-free alcohol deliveries can’t be guaranteed as in-person confirmation is often required for legal and safety reasons, Drizly is encouraging things like outside delivery drops, contactless ID scanning, and eliminating the need for customer signatures.

If you’re able to avoid the store entirely, you won’t be lack for choice when it comes to wine delivery. There are wine subscription and wine delivery programs like Usual Wines, Vinebox, Winc where you can spend some of this self-isolation finding your new go-to wine. Favorites like Rosé All Day and Cupcake wine can be bought through third-party sites like Big Hammer Wines and Wine.com.

Some are avoiding liquor stores and using wine delivery services during the coronavirus outbreak.
alvarez/E+/Getty Images

Have Wine Makers Been Impacted?

While wine availability may depend on where you live, major wine makers are still producing but with more caution. “We have made many changes to our business over the past few weeks,” Anna Bell, vice president of marketing at Barefoot Wine, tells Bustle over email. “While we are quickly adjusting to real-time changes affecting how and where consumers are able to engage with us, we continue to work closely with our suppliers, distributors, customers and sales teams and appreciate all of their extra efforts to ensure our fans are still able to access and enjoy Barefoot during this time.” Molly Davis, vice president of marketing for Apothic at E. & J. Gallo Winery, spoke to Bustle over email and also emphasized the up-to-date changes Apothic is making to ensure consumer and worker safety.

“We continue to work with our environmental health and safety teams to provide a safe workplace for our production and sales team members who are unable to work remotely,” a representative for Gallo, which owns both Apothic and Barefoot Wines, told Bustle over email. “We have made many adjustments to our business, including increased sanitization measures and social distancing and we are providing additional resources to support our employees who are unable to work remotely.”

Like many other major wine makers, both Apothic and Barefoot are available to order on Drizly or through the The Barrel Room. So, you’ll still be able to sip your favorite (or most $10) wines at home.

Are Liquor Stores Considered “Essential Business”?

In states that have shuttered nonessential businesses and closed schools, some places are still allowed or required to stay open during COVID-19-related closures. Health and medical facilities are, of course, still open, and grocery stores and restaurants aren’t required to completely shut their doors. Additionally, liquor stores, in most states, are staying open.

In Maryland, according to the Baltimore Sun, convenience stores and liquor stores are exempt from nonessential business shutdowns. While wineries and distilleries must close, they can still offer pick-up and delivery services. Per the Seattle Times, some stores that sell liquor and cannabis are staying open during shut-downs though that comes with a couple of caveats. “Liquor stores that sell food” and “workers supporting cannabis retail and dietary supplemental retail” are deemed essential per Washington state’s nonessential business shutdown.

Pennsylvania has closed its liquor stores amidst shelter-in-place ordinances for a significant portion of the population, as reported by Business Insider. However, doesn’t appear to be the trend in other states. Also, beer and wine are still available at grocery stores.

In other words, you’ll still be able to sip on your sauvignon blanc while enjoying virtual happy hours. But please, quarantine and drink responsibly.

 

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Philly Coronavirus News: Thousands Violate Stay-at-Home Order to Watch Dirt-Stupid Fighter Jet Flyover

Plus, Phillies season could open in June at Citizens Bank Park and takeout cocktails may be coming soon.

You want to know how to basically guarantee that lots and lots of people will violate the coronavirus stay-at-home order? It’s really very simple. You just organize a flyover featuring some of the most impressive fighter jets in the world.

On Tuesday afternoon, thousands of Philadelphians took to the streets, parks and local landmarks in clear violation of the stay-at-home order to see the Blue Angels-Thunderbirds joint flyover of the city. From Penn Treaty Park along the Delaware River to the Art Museum steps to the Chili’s parking lot on City Avenue in Bala Cynwyd, crowds gathered to witness the spectacle.

The flyover (seen in this video as the jets flew by the Philly skyline; video courtesy Brittany Tsoflias) was a lovely gesture, intended to pay tribute to the first-responders and medical workers who are sacrificing so much to get us through the coronavirus crisis. But when you want people to stay at home — and officials did tell people to stay at home for the flyover — maybe having a once-in-a-lifetime type of event that is best witnessed from wide open areas (as opposed to your little front stoop) is not the way to go.

Just a thought.

(P.S.: I’ve seen more than a few such flyovers, and this one wasn’t even very good.)

Phillies Season Could Open In June at Citizens Bank Park

The Phillies were supposed to play their home opener on April 2nd at Citizens Bank Park. Obviously, that didn’t happen.

But according to various reports, the Phillies might still get to play at Citizens Bank Park this year. Major League Baseball is reportedly considering a plan that would allow teams to play in empty stadiums. The kickoff for this, if it all comes together, would be sometime between mid-June and the 4th of July.

No word on who the Phillies Phanatic will run around and try to annoy if the stadium is empty.

Takeout Cocktails May Be Coming Soon Amid Coronavirus Shutdown

It is illegal for bars and restaurants to sell takeout booze. But it looks like that is about to change, thanks to a bill that is making its way through Harrisburg and expected to pass into law any day.

Bars that already had the required permit to sell takeout beer and wine have been allowed to do so since the shutdown began. But this would let them sell you a gin and tonic, Long Island iced tea, daiquiri — whatever!

Alas, you probably won’t be able to walk down Walnut Street with a martini in your hand this time next year. The bill specifically says that this would only be temporary. So keep that flask handy.

Pennsylvania Golf Courses Can Reopen This Friday

Apparently, golf courses have been closed all this time. I didn’t realize this, because I drive by a Philly golf course almost every day, and every time I do, there are golfers there doing their golfing thing in their silly golfing clothes.

Huh.

Anyway, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has announced that he’s allowing golf courses to legally open starting this Friday, part of his plan to slowly reopen the state. He’s also allowing marinas, privately owned campgrounds, and guided fishing trips to resume business on Friday.

Enjoy!

 

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Social Distancing’s Definition & How To Practice It, Explained By A Doctor

Across the globe, communities are shutting down with one goal: stop the spread of coronavirus. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), the coronavirus spreads through close contact (defined as within six feet) with infected folks; if you eliminate that close contact through social distancing, you slow the spread of the virus, and you give hospitals enough room to actually tend to people who are sick. Yes, this does mean a lot more time at home with your roommate who refuses to do her dishes (or won’t shut up about Love Is Blind), but it also means protecting the vulnerable people in your neighborhood.

The CDC recommends social distancing as a way to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, now that the virus is circulating within communities. Previously, when the virus was being brought in by travelers, testing and isolating those travelers was thought to help contain it. Now, the best way to limit the damage done by coronavirus, public health experts suggest, is by canceling events and staying home as much as we can.

Still, since none of us have been through a pandemic of this scale before, there’s a lot of questions about what social distancing actually means for you, personally, like today.

What Is Social Distancing During The Coronavirus Outbreak?

Dr. Arefa Cassoobhoy, MD, MPH, WebMD’s Senior Medical Director, tells Bustle that “anything that you as an individual or the community is doing to limit the spread of an infectious disease” counts as social distancing. Depending on the size and density of your community, that could mean encouraging people to work from home, postponing large gatherings and celebrations, closing nonessential businesses, or even closing essential ones like schools. Per the CDC, social distancing means “remaining out of congregate settings [crowded public places], avoiding mass gatherings, and maintaining distance (approximately six feet or two meters) from others when possible.”

If that sounds maddeningly vague, it’s because implementing social distancing can look different in different communities, and depending on your individual needs. “The idea is to limit your movement outside with other people to what’s truly essential,” Cassoobhoy says. “If you need to go to work, then go to work. If your school’s open, go to school. If you want to exercise, get your grocery shopping done, keep doing all of that — just be very cognizant of doing things efficiently.” She says that can mean doing your grocery shopping at an off time, or doing two weeks’ worth of shopping all at once instead of going to the store every few days.

How Social Distancing Affects The Spread Of Coronavirus

Limiting your social interactions to what’s truly essential means reducing the opportunities the virus has to jump from person to person. Around 20% of coronavirus cases will require hospitalization, per The New York Times. Social distancing helps slow the transmission of the virus, meaning those who will need hospitalization don’t overwhelm our (already fragile) health-care system by flooding in all at once. If you’ve seen that “flatten the curve” chart going around the last couple days, that’s the basic principle; social distancing can lower the burden on hospitals, so that medical professionals can deal with fewer cases at once.

“You’re going to slow the spread of an infection and [have] more time to prepare to fight the infection,” Cassoobhoy says.

What’s The Difference Between Social Distancing, Isolation, & Quarantine?

It’s amazing that people are taking their social distancing measures seriously, but it’s important to remember that it’s not the same as isolation or quarantine — aka, you don’t have to behave as if you’ve been exposed to coronavirus yourself.

“Isolation is the term generally used when someone is actually sick,” Cassoobhoy says. “That person would stay in their space, and other people would help by bringing in supplies from the outside world … but that would be the limit of people that the person’s interacting with. Quarantine is for people who have a known exposure or one degree off, depending on what public health officials say.” Quarantine is typically a precautionary measure to see if the exposed person does develop symptoms, not necessarily that they’re sick. “Those people need to stay home and get help from others to get their supplies in and out.”

Claire*, 36, is isolating herself while she waits for the results of a coronavirus test, having shown symptoms for a week. “I’m staying connected from afar and not going too stir-crazy by reaching out to friends and talking on the phone instead of texting and checking in on elderly friends to make sure they have supplies.” She also has been syncing up watching her favorite TV shows with her friends to stay social.

In a social distancing situation, it’s OK to go out and conduct essential business like getting groceries — but again, being mindful of limiting that exposure and maintaining good hygiene is paramount.

Can You Visit Family Or See Friends During The Coronavirus Outbreak?

One of the more serious questions people have about social distancing during the coronavirus outbreak is whether it’s safe to visit family, especially older relatives, or friends during the outbreak. Again, the answer is highly variable.

“It’s going to depend from person to person, according to [their] health and their parents’,” Cassoobhoy says, as well as what’s happening in your community. “If your community hasn’t had cases and there isn’t strict guidance from the public health department then, sure, go visit your mom and hang out, but keep up the usual hand-washing techniques.”

Cassoobhoy adds that keeping a six-foot distance is wise to avoid close contact. “Maybe stop the hugging and the kissing and focus on other ways of showing love or communicating.” For relatives who are at a higher risk of illness, whether that’s due to being over age 60 or dealing with a chronic condition, it may be wise to check in on them via FaceTime.

In terms of visiting friends, it really depends on your definition of “essential” movement. “We’re not talking about removing ourselves from social interaction,” Cassoobhoy says. But if you can call a friend instead of taking public transportation cross-town to their house, that’s probably the move here. “If you were supposed to go to a book club, try doing it online so that you still have that connection with others and you can see their faces,” she suggests. Ultimately, creating more movement defeats the purpose of social distancing, so try to keep those interactions virtual, if you can.

Can You Go Out To Eat, Do Laundry, Or See Movies During The Coronavirus Outbreak?

It all depends on your definition of “essential” and your community’s public health guidelines. In New York City, gatherings of more than 500 people were banned as of March 12, and restaurants and bars with an occupancy limit of less than that need to cut their capacity in half, per The New York Times. Ostensibly, this is to limit the opportunities for close contact, or contact within six feet of each other.

“Make decisions about how large the crowd is, and then, most importantly, keep up your hand-washing and cleaning,” Cassoobhoy says.

While restaurants remain open, you can absolutely support your local businesses to your comfort level, whether that’s ordering delivery or takeout, or contributing to crowdfunding campaigns to support bartenders or other tipped workers. But again, limiting essential movement is key. If you have to do your laundry at a laundromat — arguably a pretty essential task — do it. But you may want to skip a crowded movie theater or concert venue.

Can You Take A Walk While Practicing Social Distancing?

It bears repeating that social distancing is not the same thing as isolation or self-quarantine. Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you have to never, ever, ever leave your apartment. Be mindful about keeping that six-foot distance between people, which shouldn’t be too difficult if you’re taking a walk around the park near your house. Plus, access to nature really does improve your immune function, as one study published in Frontiers in Psychology in 2015 confirmed.

How Do You Reduce Anxiety When You’re Practicing Social Distancing?

All of this information (on top of coronavirus news feeling like the only conversation happening online and off) can be overwhelming or even scary. Staying cooped up at home doesn’t necessarily help. Cassoobhoy stresses that keeping perspective throughout this period can really soothe coronavirus anxiety. “It’s important to remind ourselves that this is a temporary time,” she says, adding that the technology we have today is unprecedented in terms of keeping us connected. “Avoid the stuff that’s giving you anxiety … but use social media to connect with people who have the same interests that you do.”

Maintaining a routine and a semblance of normalcy can also create paths to certainty in an uncertain world. “Create a schedule at home, that routine will help,” Cassoobhoy says. Further, utilizing the time you have from not commuting to increase your self-care can also be grounding. “Take a break in the evening to cook a meal, and go to bed at a regular time.” And if you need extra support, you can see if your therapist will offer video or phone sessions, or get in touch with services like Crisis Text Line for 24/7 support.

If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and coughing, call NHS 111 in the UK or visit the CDC website in the U.S. for up-to-date information and resources. 

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

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10 Virtual Book Clubs You Can Join Now—And How to Start Your Own

With movies, concerts, bar trivia night and other live events canceled due to the coronavirus crisis, more and more people seem to be turning to literature to pass the time. Last week, TIME published a list of 30 books to hunker down with, from The Passage trilogy to Colson Whitehead’s Zone One.

While literature on its own offers solace and distraction, it can also become the backbone of community. Over the past few weeks, many digital book clubs have sprouted up across the globe, allowing people to interact with their favorite authors, discuss thorny moral questions or just see other human faces. “It’s like the book is an excuse for people to connect and look at other people,” Mike Monteiro, the co-founder of Quarantine Book Club, says.

Here are some of the most notable book clubs that will continue to offer online events going forward. Meanwhile, TIME books editor Lucy Feldman offers some tips about how to start your own community around reading.

#TolstoyTogether

While it might be an ideal time to finally crack open Tolstoy’s War and Peace, the 1,200-page epic is a daunting task to take on alone. The author Yiyun Li is currently leading a pilgrimage through the novel on the independent publisher A Public Space’s social media channels. “I have found that the more uncertain life is, the more solidity and structure Tolstoy’s novels provide,” Li wrote in her introductory post. “In these times, one does want to read an author who is so deeply moved by the world that he could appear unmoved in his writing.”

The group has been reading about 15 pages a day and are 100 pages in. A Public Space representative estimates that 3000 people are participating across the world, from Pakistan to Brazil to Norway. Li has been startled by the level of engagement: “I thought maybe five to ten people would read with me,” she says. She chose the novel in part because she hoped its pace and length would serve as a perfect antidote to the frenzied news cycle of the moment: “It’s a book that requires a lot of patience and support from each other,” she says. “If you are reading news or social media every day, you tend to get agitated and panicky. But this book is the opposite: it’s a long retrospective to history.”

Readers have also been finding curious similarities between the novel’s plot and current events:

DC Reads

While all the physical locations of the DC Public Library are closed, the library’s book club has moved to Twitter. Over the past week, the library has hosted a discussion about Elizabeth Acevedo’s With the Fire on High, about a high school student and mother who dreams of becoming a chef. The next discussion question will be posted on March 28 at 2 p.m., and then on April 4.

Quarantine Book Club

Every weekday since March 16, the Quarantine Book Club has hosted two Zoom talks daily with a variety of authors, from Myriam Gurba to Heather B. Armstrong. Mike Monteiro and Erika Hall, two designers who live in San Francisco, started the club when their own work opportunities dried up; their audience quickly ballooned beyond their circle of friends.

“People want human connection. They’re bored, they’re freaked out,” Monteiro tells TIME. “So you get on here and you talk to somebody who’s really good in their field.”

Monteiro says that over 200 people paid the $5 admission on Tuesday to listen to the graphic designer Aaron Draplin and ask him questions; the conversations have often extended past the books and toward the world at large. The Quarantine Book Club will continue twice a day for as long as people remain at home, with proceeds going to the authors as well as Monteiro and Hall’s design studio. The science fiction author and journalist Cory Doctorow arrives on April 1.

The Stranger’s Quarantine Club

The Seattle-based publication The Stranger is hosting a reading and discussion of Albert Camus’ The Plague, a Nobel Prize winner written in 1947 in which an epidemic sweeps through a town on the Algerian coast. “Its relevance lashes you across the face,” Stephen Metcalf wrote in the LA Times on Monday. In the first week of the book club, dozens of readers from Mexico City to Ann Arbor sent in pictures of their reading chairs. The club will complete the book on March 30.

Silent Book Club

Guinevere de la Mare and Laura Gluhanich founded this club in 2012 as a potential outlet for introverts. “It provided a place for people to be able to get out of the house and meet up with a group—and not be forced to make awkward happy hour conversation, but to sit quietly for an hour and then chat about books,” de la Mare says. Since then, the club has grown to 260 chapters around the world in 31 countries. These chapters meet, read whatever book they’ve brought for an hour silently, and then share what they’ve learned.

De La Mare hopes that the club, which converted to virtual meet-ups a few weeks ago, can play a similar role for people struggling with living in isolation: “I hope that this provides a way to combat some loneliness,” she says. De La Mare says that in Kansas City, members have formed a tight-knit community and have even been exchanging books by leaving them on each other’s patios. Meanwhile, the chapter in Genoa, Italy, has seen a doubling in participants since the country went on lockdown.

Lez Book Club

For the past two and a half years, the Lez Book Club has been meeting in groups of 12 in pubs in London, providing a space for queer women to meet and share literature. The pivot to virtual meetings in the wake of coronavirus presents both a challenge and an opportunity for founder Eleonore Pratoussy: she wants to keep the meetings safe and intimate while also opening up her community to women around the world.

“There’s such a thirst from queer women and nonbinary people and trans people to come together,” Pratoussy says. “I’m hoping that this type of virtual book club will break the boundaries, and that any type of physical barrier will be removed so that anyone can join.”

The first virtual meetings will happen on Wednesday and Thursday evening; more information can be found by joining the group’s Instagram. “Reading a book at home alone is one of the small pleasures of life,” Pratoussy says. “Sharing your thoughts and ideas with other people about the book is another small pleasure of life.”

Rebel Book Club

Over the past five years, the Rebel Book Club has grown into a six-city organization with 1,000 active members who come to monthly nonfiction readings from London to Barcelona to Berlin. This month, they’re moving completely online to read and discuss the book #newpower with one of its authors, Jeremy Heimans. The book traces how the internet and social media have upended traditional power structures.

Ben Keene, the club’s co-founder, says that Rebel will continue hosting these monthly virtual book discussions, as well as a daily video chat called Rebel Book Pub, for the foreseeable future. Keene also says that 150 people have signed up for the club’s 14-day reading challenge, which set a goal for participants to finish a book in two weeks.

Lit Hub’s Virtual Book Channel

The Literary Hub is virtually hosting the type of programming that would ordinarily take place in bookstores around the country: book tour events, readings and Q&As. The first episode featured Kevin Nguyen talking about his debut novel New Waves—a heist narrative set inside the New York start-up world.

Translated Fiction Online Book Club

Six European publishing houses have teamed up to create this weekly Zoom series in which they take turns presenting a book from their catalogs. (The selected titles are sometimes discounted.) First up on March 26 is The Mussel Feast by Birgit Vanderbeke, a family drama set before the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Quarantini

Eric Cervini, a historian of LBGTQ+ politics and culture, has started a book and movie club on his Instagram page that is racking up thousands of views per video. He’s currently reading and discussing James Baldwin’s 1956 Giovanni’s Room, about an American in Paris.

Start Your Own

None of these book clubs may be right for you—or maybe you’d like to form your own community. Below, TIME books editor Lucy Feldman has some tips on how to get started and lead your own discussion.

The book: You can have a good book club discussion about a bad book, but it’s always more fun when members connect to the material (and in these times, who wants to invest energy in a book that feels like homework?). For your first meeting, start with an accessible novel — one with interesting characters, which are often more fun to debate than plot points.

The discussion: The best discussions arise out of questions that are open-ended so everyone can bring their own perspectives and offer more than simple “yes, I agree” or “no, I don’t” answers. As the leader, you’ll want to come prepared with more questions than you might think necessary. It’s also nice to ask a couple members to have a question ready so you can tap them when conversation starts to lag or you notice that they’re not getting involved (this is especially helpful if you have a member on the shy side who wants to participate but feels more comfortable knowing in advance what they’re going to say).

Encourage people to share their personal perspectives, but try to guide everyone to use “I” statements so they don’t accidentally alienate other members—and be prepared to mediate if people disagree.

And finally, remember that the most important thing right now is to bring people together and lift each other up. If you lose track of the topic at hand, well, that probably means you’re having the conversation you need to be having right now.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

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