By: Mary Zakharova
Back in March 2020, when COVID-19 infections started to pick up nationwide, most of New York City was shut down. Restaurants and stores were closed, people were sent home from their offices to work remotely, and schools like Brooklyn College switched their learning format from in-person to online.
This summer, with New Yorkers living more than a year alongside COVID, restrictions have started to roll back. For Cameron Phillips, the research associate in an investment company, the biggest change he’s experienced so far was going physically into his workplace. When he started working last summer, getting inside his office was not an option. This time around, after a year in the company, he saw his colleagues in person for the first time. “I’m going to the office a lot. It feels very weird to see each other not on the screen. I’m getting used to that, and that’s a big thing for me,” Phillips told The Vanguard. Besides the changes in his work environment, his schedule has taken on a faster pace.
“I was living at home with my parents, and this spring I moved in with my girlfriend. I’m going back to work, I was able to go on vacation, and it’s a very big change of scenario for me,” Phillips said.
Aisha Kenya, a cashier in a supermarket, on the other hand, found that her life has not changed much this summer. “I will be staying home and filming content for my YouTube channel,” Kenya said. The only difference as opposed to last year was that she is planning on going to lots of restaurants, which was not possible before with only takeout being available. Kenya is also glad the mask policy is almost over. “I can finally go out without a mask,” she said.
With vaccines steadily rolling out this summer, and 11 million New Yorkers fully vaccinated as of press time, Phillips thinks that all COVID restrictions should be lifted. “I think that the restrictions at this point are largely dumb,” said Phillips. “Everybody who wants to get vaccinated has already gotten vaccinated so it’s probably totally fine.”
For other New Yorkers like Elena Voronina, the project manager of a pharmaceutical company, masks and other COVID precautions are needed as the pandemic continues. “I think people should still wear masks in crowded places like stores and transport,” she said.
Though NYC gradually opens back up as summer passes, Voronina thinks it is important for city-goers to remain aware of the virus. “I always have my mask with me. I still don’t think the situation is going back to normal,” she said. “It’s better than last year, but it is far from normal.”
Even though many are going back to how they used to live before, COVID-19 changed a lot, and the aftermath of these changes are still affecting everybody. “I don’t remember what’s normal anymore,” said Voronina.