The US has been a real patchwork of regulations since the pandemic started, but depending on where you lived, many decisions were made simple in the beginning. When non-essential stores, restaurants, gyms, movie theaters, museums, and hair salons are closed, the decision is made for you because you can't actually go to any of them. For a while, we really went very few places. We had a weekly grocery store trip and an almost daily outdoor walk. We ordered food a couple times a week to break up the monotony. As time went on, and public health experts became less concerned about outdoor transmission, encountering other people on our walks made us less nervous. We started making occasional trips to restaurants to get take-out instead of ordering in (both because food delivery has been a very imperfect process and so that our money would go to the restaurants themselves instead of the delivery services). But that was pretty much it for our venturing out.
Now, more options are available in our area. Restaurants, salons, gyms, and non-essential stores are allowed to reopen under certain conditions (greatly reduced capacity, mask-wearing, etc.). And so in a sense, some decisions are still easy. We don't have to decide whether to risk eating in a crowded indoor restaurant, for example, because indoor seating capacity has been capped at 50% for the time being. But we do have to decide whether we want to risk going to that restaurant (or gym, store, salon, etc.) in the first place.
This weekend, we decided to make a couple of these decisions. First, we went to our local farmers market. This had stayed open with modifications throughout the pandemic, but we hadn't been since before the pandemic started because we had been trying to minimize non-essential outings. We decided this was probably a safe outing to make since it's outdoors, and besides, I wanted some plants for the balcony. We could see decisions being made at the farmers market itself. Some vendors had elaborate systems for socially-distanced lines and the employees handling your produce. Others were more relaxed and let you wander around and pick your own stuff. On the whole, I found the farmers market much more enjoyable in the pre-pandemic days, but that's probably not much of a surprise.
We also decided to go to a restaurant and (gasp!) actually eat there. Our 14th anniversary was on Thursday, and we were talking about how to celebrate it. Since the pandemic started, we celebrated both Scott's birthday and my graduation at home. And now we actually had the option to go out. Ordinarily, we would have gone somewhere in DC (I keep a mental list of restaurants I want to try there), but we decided to choose someplace within walking distance this time in order to skip taking Metro to get there. And while the whole experience felt very different from pre-pandemic times, it was still pretty great! Time will tell whether this was a wise decision, but I'm hoping that some of the regulations in place will help us all to get a little taste of our previous life without putting undue risk on anyone.
More decisions are coming. My gym is reopening in early July (with only two people allowed to work out at a time). I also haven't had a haircut since February, and am sorely tempted to get one now. I'm thinking I might spread these "pandemic firsts" out a bit to see how my area's reopening goes and to not force myself into too many decisions at once.