Many businesses are going to have challenges when they return after the state shutdown orders expire — a process that is increasingly occurring across the country. People who have been lectured repeatedly about social distancing and who have refrained from shaking hands or having any close proximity interactions with anybody who isn’t already living in their house may be skittish about throwing that all aside and, say, sitting right next to total strangers and sharing a public bathroom at a basketball game.
I think one business may have the biggest challenge of all: bowling. When you think about it, it’s just about the most communal activity for the general public that we’ve got. It’s indoors. You bowl on a lane right next to people you’ve never seen before and will never see again. And– get this, germophobes! — you share alley balls and their hard surfaces with other members of the general public, and you stick your fingers into the same finger holes that other unknown people have used. All of those balls travel on the same lanes and go through the same ball retrieval devices. Even more, you share shoes with total strangers, too!
In short, bowling has a potentially dizzying amount of communication vectors. It makes you wonder if Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx, dazzling scarves flying, have ever gone out to the local alley to try to throw a strike or pick up a spare.
Bowling isn’t alone, of course, Any bars that have communal games — like bocce, or cornhole — are going to see the same issues. How are people going to react to going to the community swimming pool and jumping in the water that’s also occupied by some germy-looking kids and that dubious guy lurking over at the pool’s edge? Will people go to concerts, or participate in that fun trivia night at their local tavern? Are cheering parents going to be maintaining social distancing in the stands at their kids’ baseball and softball games, and are they going to insist that the kids can’t give each other high fives?
The health experts want us to remember these social distancing rules and continue to adhere to them, even if coronavirus goes the way of the dodo, because it will help to prevent the spread of the flu — a yearly occurrence that is deadly for some but that we’ve all come to accept as a risk. Lots of businesses, on the other hand, hope that we promptly forget all that and get back to having fun with people in crowds. Something’s gotta give.