One year after the COVID-19 pandemic began, almost all Bay Area counties are in the red tier which means schools, restaurants, gyms and movie theatres slowly letting people in.
Sean O'Toole is the chef and owner of TORC restaurant in Napa. His customers got the green light last week to dine inside, coming back for another round of the new normal.
“I would say as we start to enter the next tiers our occupancy goes up we will be doing pretty well, we’ll be pretty full,” said O’Toole.
To accommodate inside dining, tables are far apart, sanitizers are everywhere and circles telling people where to stand are in place.
“I think for now I’m going to keep wearing a mask with my job. I'm going to keep wearing a mask, keep thinking of my family,” said customer Jake Brennan.
Very different to how we thought before the pandemic with packed movie theaters, concert halls and sports stadiums.
O’toole is dealing with the change.
“I’m not wearing gloves right now, but all the staff wears gloves,” he said. “Hopefully that can change.”
But, what will the world look like two of five years from now?
“I don’t think we can exactly say where things are going to be, say even a year from now,” said UCSF Epidemiologist Dr. George Rutherford.
He said as vaccines continue to roll out, things might change for the better.
“As a society with everyone vaccinated we’re going to be doing really well by this time next year hopefully we will have avoided the winter serge but it will take a couple of years to establish a permanent pattern,” he said.
Close to 100 million Americans have been fully vaccinated and we need 250 million to get a shot to get herd immunity.
Dr. Anthony Fauci says at a minimum, people need to continue to wear masks and do frequent handwashing to prevent infection.
Rutherford believes handwashing will stay, but bumping elbows may fade away.
“I think we’ll go back to shaking hands. I think we’ll go back to not wearing masks. I think we will go back to not maintaining social distance. People will be a little cautious wading into crowds a little more cautious than they have been in the past,” he said.
So for now, we continue to live in a COVID protected world.
Schools have been forced to pivot. San Ramon Valley Unified students are back but not full time.
“We really need the state to be clear what the safe standard is,” said Superintendent John Malloy, who added that to bring students back full time, they need guidance from the state on what’s really safe.
“If three feet is safe, we have no problem,” Malloy said. “If four feet is safe we have some adjustments and challenges, but I think we can make it happen. If six feet is required and it’s not the case that would be a whole other story.”
The story now is our future.
“Five years from now, I think it will be back to normal,” said tourist Brad Kinoshita. “They’re going to come up with something that will be a cure-all by then.”
That’s the hope since COVID-19 turned the world on its axis in 2020.
How things will look in the future is still a bit hazy.