By Assunta Ng
Northwest Asia Weekly
Although I am excited about the reopening of Washington State on June 30, I have some reservations.
I can’t help but wonder if we are ready. A month ago, I couldn’t wait. I hope to reopen immediately. Now, I have a second thought, because some people refuse to be vaccinated. I doubt whether we can achieve the goal of vaccinating 70% of the population as President Joe Biden hoped.
If we reopen, what should we pay attention to? Should we hug and shake hands to greet our friends? Are we ready to work in the office five days a week? Should we eat out as often as before the pandemic? Should we attend meetings of all sizes as we did before? Even if the mask regulations are cancelled in some places, should I still wear a mask? Oh, what should I wear? Casual wear or fashionable wear? Should I participate in a large event like the Seattle Symphony Orchestra?
I wrote in my blog in March that whenever you want to have lunch with non-family members, you should ask before getting together: “Have you been vaccinated?”
This was important at the time, and it is even more important now. You have spent more than a year to protect yourself from the new coronavirus, and you have made countless sacrifices and unspeakable hardships. Don’t ruin it with a reckless behavior.
Knowing that you are sitting across from someone who has been vaccinated will relax you so that you can fully enjoy the meal. Never assume that someone did this unless you asked this question before lunch and your friend gave you a clear answer. You have the right to know. This is not embarrassing, because we are talking about life and death. If your friend hasn’t yet, you should say, “You are not ready to go out to eat. Get vaccinated. This will help you, your family, and the community.”
Brazil and Italy are countries with high infection rates and death rates during Covid. I understand why, because I was in Brazil and Italy five times in December 2019. These countries and their respective cultures embrace not only between men and women, between women and women, but also between men and men. I have seen Brazilians hug each other even when they meet for the first time. Maybe the pandemic will now change their cultural habits.
We express our passion through body language. When we hug someone we like, it releases endorphins. This is how Covid spreads through personal contact.
After being detained for 15 months, we are eager for contact and contact between people. But for everyone’s sake, don’t. Wait a few more months, even if the other party has been fully vaccinated.
Temporarily use elbows and insoles instead of hugs and handshake. I sometimes forget and stretch out my hand. If you do, please wash your hands afterwards. It is better to do the right thing than regret it afterwards.
The progressive approach of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra
What annoys me most about the pandemic is the inability to attend live concerts. I will not miss theaters, sporting events or outdoor festivals. I missed the Seattle Symphony Orchestra (SSO) concert at Benaroya Hall.
Two weeks ago, I went. It is great to see SSO musician and conductor Ludovic Morlot. Starting with 2500 seats, their first event was limited to staff (less than 30 people), the second event had 150 people, and the third concert I attended in mid-June had 220 people.
The roll call box is completely cancelled. You have an e-ticket or email. There are 26 musicians on the stage, and the entire orchestra size of less than 40 members. Their seating arrangements comply with social distancing guidelines and sit far apart from each other.
Only two people can sit in each row, and two to four people can sit in the middle row to maintain social distancing and leave up to 20 vacancies.
Although the hall was empty, the emcee (the violinist) asked the audience to applaud as much as possible.
“We need it,” he said. We did it. After each performance, thunderous applause and two standing applause were sent to the wonderful show.
There is no paper program to distribute. You can check the online program before going.
Tickets sent via email indicate requirements for temperature checks and vaccination.
The receptionist checked the body temperature of each participant, but there was no proof of vaccination. SSO is cautious about the audience size test, even if it is allowed to hold up to 50%. I watched the whole show comfortably without any anxiety. Everything is well thought out and arranged.
SSO may lose money on this program. But the argument is that getting musicians back to work is better than staying at home, and getting live audiences back is a milestone. When the musicians stood up from their chairs to receive applause, no musician was not smiling. In this cruel pandemic, the audience and performers have been happy and satisfied for some time. For all of us, this is a magical moment of victory, spelling out “We will not kowtow to Covid” loudly and clearly.
what to wear?
My wardrobe is full of some beautiful clothes. But I don’t care about wearing them now. The epidemic changed me. I would rather spend my time on the things that really matter in life. Now, there is no point in dressing in order to impress people. I will not go anywhere or meet big people.
In the past few months, I like to wear jeans. And I am not worried that people will say that I am a lazy person. It takes a lot of time to dress beautifully because it requires an effort to match accessories, such as jewelry, shoes, and wallets. At present, time is too precious to be spent on choosing clothes.
Fortunately, most of the places I ventured these days are parks, seashores and forests. And casual pants are perfect.
But if wearing fashionable clothes brings you fun, go shopping. The hot summer is approaching. You need some bright and fashionable clothes. It will support our economy. This is also a good thing.
go back to work
Remote work is one of the advantages of COVID. It benefits not only employees, but also employers. A hospital recently terminated its office lease in the city center, and all employees are now working from home. Guess how much money it saved? US$2 million.
Most large companies like Amazon, Google, and Microsoft know that working remotely makes employees happier, especially those with family responsibilities. Amazon was not interested in remote work at first and tried to push employees back. Since then, it has reconsidered its policies and required employees to only work in the office two days a week instead of five days.
Google requires employees to work in the office three days a week.
Due to the lack of collaboration and supervision of employees, some small companies may not want to work remotely. The pandemic has prompted us to be more flexible to meet the specific needs of our employees. In the past 15 months, Northwest Asia Weekly has done just that.
back to school
I have a different view of going back to the classroom. Thinking back to my college days, I enjoyed the classroom experience and the social interaction after class. My chat with classmates in the library of the University of Washington HUB (Student Union Building) and our study group was interesting and memorable. Some of the speakers on campus are outstanding, such as Gloria Steinem and Bella Abzug. Hearing them through Zoom is not the same. The energy and dialogue in the room are full of power. In the past year, no matter how good the speakers were, I was not interested in Zoom presentations. I admit that I hate Zoom meetings. Sitting too tight and too stiff. I never felt right to them.
So students, if you are vaccinated, please promote face-to-face courses in your school. This is an education you can never get from books and the Internet.
Do not worry
I miss all my friends, businesses, communities and close friends. Our current trend is to date lunch and dinner in July with those who we postponed during the pandemic.
We need to remember that the pandemic is not over yet. Only 68% (45.3% had at least 1 dose) of the American population and 70% of Seattleites were vaccinated. This is really good news. People who have been vaccinated can still get COVID-19, but they are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms. We must also protect ourselves and your friends carefully.
Don’t overbook. Do it slowly. Try it once a week with a small group of friends in July, and then add it in August. There is no need to rush back to the social calendar before the pandemic.
Enjoy your summer!
Assunta can be reached [email protected].