Back to Basics – Reflecting on Social Distancing

Everything has changed. The novel coronavirus is impacting today’s economies and businesses in unprecedented ways. In the US, mandatory lockdowns and other restrictions will likely result in the “largest quarterly decline in economic activity since 1933,” according to McKinsey & Co. Suggestions to not work and for social distancing as well as stay-at-home orders affect everyone’s lives and livelihoods. The White House strongly recommends Americans to avoid frequent trips outdoors. For the first time in many people’s lives, they fear for their safety as they go to get groceries. Meanwhile, essential businesses struggle to remain operating while navigating added regulations to maintain the safety of their employees and customers.

One thing we can (and must) do to help curb the spread and continuation of the COVID-19 virus and hasten the return to normalcy, is practice social distancing.

Social distancing needs in essential businesses

A near-completely empty intersection with a large billboard by the Centers for Disease Control  Prevention encouraging social distancing.

So, what is social distancing and why the urgency? Social distancing is the idea that we can significantly reduce the number of infections and help ease the burden of healthcare facilities by increasing distance between people. To encourage social distancing, businesses have taken action by frequently cleaning, reserving hours at-risk shoppers, and limiting capacity. Many have also installed social distance markers reminding shoppers to maintain the 6-feet-apart rule with which many of us are now all too familiar.  Major stores such as Target and Walmart have also begun offering pick-up and even drive-up services (only in specific locations), where employees bring online orders straight to the car.

Despite these added efforts, confusion remains as states and businesses have varying policies; fears and uncertainties remain as, day-by-day, we seem to lose more and more freedom over our lives.

Are businesses doing enough?

Canned food aisle in a grocery store that is almost completely empty of any items.

It’s impossible to be certain that fellow shoppers or even themselves aren’t carrying the virus, so waiting in lines of any length is still a significant hazard. It also doesn’t ease shoppers’ minds to know that the virus is respiratory and spreads through droplets; droplets that spread while talking, coughing, sneezing—even breathing. Unfortunately, this risk of going out is especially felt by older adults and those with serious medical conditions. Accommodating for these people during this time is especially crucial, yet currently insufficient.

Sure, grocery stores have been putting tape and stickers to clearly mark 6-feet out on their floors. And yes, businesses have limited the number of customers allowed in at any given time. However, the fact remains that leaving the house exposes yourself and others. At least a bit of crowding and lines will persist, and comfortable shopping conditions will be hard to achieve. There is no foreseeable solution for this issue.

What we’re doing about it

RSVD's interface showing off our mobile time slot feature.

RSVD is offering our support to all essential businesses that can benefit from safely managing capacity. Our reservation technology can help businesses manage demand with mobile time slots, helping reduce risk of infection and spread. We want to lend a hand to those who are too fearful to leave their homes, and simply open up opportunities for them to go out and get what they need. RSVD is extremely easy to use: those without smartphones, desktop computers, and even internet access, can book over the phone. Even for walk-ins, benefits are very tangible: organized crowds and balanced demand creates a safer space and shopping experience for all.

This is a difficult time for the world; businesses and customers alike are faced with unprecedented challenges everyday. As part of the global effort to fight the spread of COVID-19 while supporting each other, we all have responsibilities to step into. For us, it’s giving our communities more control and more freedom for at least that one aspect of their lives.

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