This last summer forced me to do things I’ve never experienced before. It pushed me to be introspective, it brought me a new familiarity with social media apps like Zoom, and it even coined some new hangout terms within my friend group, like a “parking lot sit.” As I began to hear chatter of summer concert tickets for sale, I wondered whether or not the social event of Summer 2021 will amount to my friends dangling our legs out of the trunks of our respective cars in an empty parking lot. Will six describe the number of feet I should stand away from people, or the minutes until my Uber arrives to pick me up for a concert? With these questions looming in my mind, I took to the internet to see what leading health professionals predicted. With regard to what we consider “normal activities,” here’s what the experts have to say.
In terms of travel, it seems that other countries are investigating vaccination passports. Many EU countries are beginning to implement this idea. In Poland, people can download a QR code to their phone to show as a “second passport.” The UK has explored using this same idea and believes it could help facilitate international travel this summer. In fact, it is being considered by many European nations as an option that could help reopen some tourist travel sites. Effective in May, an agreement between Greece and Serbia outlined that an online form of vaccination proof will be sufficient to freely travel between the two nations. A similar type of agreement was made between Greece, Israel, and Cyprus.
While travel this summer seems optimistic, we must also consider the CDC’s continued Warning Level 3 for travel. Every country provides information about their COVID levels on their respective health department websites or through the World Health Organization’s (WHO) website. They are all excellent resources for planning or learning about possible future travel.
Before we can think about traveling to other countries, it’s important that airlines and airports can safely and efficiently transport people. The LA Times suggests that air travel will begin to eliminate distanced seating by opening up middle rows that previously weren’t open to fliers. Longwoods International President Amir Eylon says that air travel is so dependent on vaccination rollout speed that travel-seekers should bet on using cars as a means for transportation in this summer’s travels. The company conducted a survey, which showed that, since January, there’s been a 16% increase in the number of people who planned to travel.
- Social Gatherings
In terms of social gatherings, Brown’s Dean of the School of Public Health, Dr. Ashish Jha, believes that outdoor gatherings with no masks are a feasible expectation for Summer 2021. Across the world, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson agreed that holiday gatherings this summer could proceed in a much different, more normal fashion than last year. While COVID cases have been declining in the US and many places have been reopening, health experts are still emphasizing the need to stay vigilant and careful, so as to maintain this downward trend.
- Summer Camps
In terms of summer camps, the CDC frequently updates their “Suggestions for Youth and Summer Camps” page with practices classified in one of the four levels of risk, ranging from lowest to highest. With health protective protocols in place, most camps plan to reopen in 2021. After only 18% of overnight camps operated last summer, many others have reported using the summer time since then to study successful camps’ experiences and develop a reopening strategy for this upcoming summer. It is likely that within these camps, campers will still be confined to a smaller-than-usual social circle.
In terms of entertainment, many experts remain cautiously optimistic. Some artists have canceled summer tours already, but New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy explained that as of March, indoor and outdoor venues can open at 10% and 15% capacity, respectively., This would be contingent on people’s distancing and mask-wearing practices. At the end of February, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said, limited capacity indoor events will open for those who have proof of a negative testa decision based on a Buffalo Bills game where 70,000 distanced attendees were safe.According to Buffalo News, Eddy Sato, the Director of Production for LA Redrock Entertainment Services predicts outdoor venues will be the first to invite customers this summer. If we continue to be patient and follow health guidelines, then reopening summer entertainment could be a real possibility.
Although our knowledge is based on predictions and filled with uncertainty, these expectations for Summer 2021 paint a much different picture compared to Summer 2020. This is a testament to the essential workers’ hard work and the diligence of those who follow safety protocols. A lot can change in such little time, but it appears that professionals in various industries remain hopeful that life this summer will feel more like summers as we once know them.