We're Not There Yet

As the impact of the coronavirus pandemic started to become obvious, with businesses sending their workers home, schools sending students home, restaurants and bars shutting their doors and going curbside, and folks staying at home to prevent the spread, there was a lot of talk about the "new normal."

Everywhere I looked, pundits were discussing it. "The new normal" this, and "the new normal" that. As the pandemic stretched on through the summer months and then picked up speed to a disturbing degree throughout the fall, most of us adapted and adopted practices suggested by the experts, like social distancing, wearing masks and handwashing. And still, talk about this "new normal" continued.

Something about it seemed wrong. Every time the phrase popped up, it felt not quite right. And I finally put my finger on it over the past couple of months.

This is anything but normal.

And on the flip side: There will be a new normal, but we're not there yet.

For the past nine months and counting, every day has felt to me like a Thursday. We're still nose to the grindstone, plugging away, and the long awaited release (the weekend) is somehow always just out of reach.

That said, we can, finally, see a light approaching. In this year of Thursdays, the weekend finally seems imminent. (Even if "imminent" means sometime in the summer.) There is a highly effective vaccine being rolled out as I sit here typing (in my dining room, because that's what Thursday 2020 looks like), and another is on the verge of approval. While there's disagreement about exactly when these vaccines will become available for all, we can hope that by this time next year, we will be living in the new normal.

We're not there yet, but we know these abnormal days are numbered.

In this issue, we look broadly at safety and risk management in different types of facilities, including aquatics and playgrounds, as well as how to create safer environments for recreation, sports and fitness amidst a dangerous and deadly pandemic.

Throughout 2020 and over the course of the next several months, we've watched science in action, as our knowledge about the best ways to protect ourselves and others have been honed and refined. There are things we do in this not-normal time—we wear masks and keep our distance, we mostly stay at home—that will not be permanent. But we've also learned a lot in general about protecting people from virulent pathogens that may carry over into our post-pandemic operations—our new normal. A greater focus on cleanliness and disease prevention will likely carry over, as will more frequent handwashing and, hopefully, the idea that when you're not well, you stay home.

All across the industry, leaders jumped into action to understand how to operate—or at least how to float along as best as possible—in these strange times. Extraordinary events force new learning upon us, and extraordinary people use these times as opportunities to expand their understanding and share their learning.

So here's to 2021 and the future new normal, dear reader! I can't wait to meet you there.

Be well,

Emily Tipping
Editorial Director,
Recreation Management

[email protected]