Americans could be inspired by European creative social distancing ideas
COVID-19 pandemic in Europe has caused different countries to find creative ways to implement social distancing. Even after European countries started reopening borders and lifting the quarantine, many still practiced safe ways to spend time socially.
Some of these examples might serve the U.S. as well, currently the country with the largest number of reported cases of COVID-19. Even the attendees of the July 4th White House’s Salute to America were not wearing masks or socially distancing, as reported by the press. Perhaps creative solutions could aid event organizers and businesses in assuring events and social gatherings proceed, while adhering to suggested distance advisory by the World Health Organization.
What are some of the most creative examples that some European countries have implemented social distancing?
1. Individual shields in restaurants. The Parisian H.A.N.D restaurant is using individual lampshade-style shields, and the Mediamatic ETEN restaurant in Amsterdam has installed greenhouses around each table, with restaurant staff serving food on long planks to distance themselves from customers.
2. Carpark used for prayer. In Germany, in the city of Wetzlar near Frankfurt, IKEA gave local mosque access to its vast parking lot. Now devotees can pray outdoors, at a safe distance. The image of the outdoor prayers has since gone viral.
3. Lithuanian anthem sung globally at a distance of a stretched-out flag. On July 6th, Lithuanians around the world gathered to sing the national anthem at 9 p.m. sharp local time to mark Lithuania’s Statehood Day. The organizers found a creative solution for this year: people were singing while keeping the distance by stretching-out a national flag. “Thinking of solutions, we discovered that the length of the stretched flag was around 2 metres. The flag makes the distance symbolic and still it perfectly corresponds with the social distancing recommendations by the World Health Organization,” said Dalius Abaris, one of the event organizers.
4. Social distancing with giant hats. While some are using stretched-out flags, others are choosing social distancing with giant hats. A café in the German city of Schwerin celebrated its reopening by giving customers special straw hats with a pool noodle to help with social distancing.
5. The park meant to keep people apart. Many minds are already working out ideas for the future. Austria-based architecture firm Precht released an idea for a vacant plot in Vienna, suggesting to convert Parc de la Distance, a contemporary hedge maze. The park would draw inspiration from French baroque design and Japanese Zen gardens. Hedges 90 cm wide delineate six winding 600-meter routes that would allow for 20-minute strolls. Entrance gates would show whether each route was occupied or available to use.
6. Social distancing in restaurants with mannequins or plush bears. Returning to restaurants and keeping a recommended safe distance generated some interesting ideas. Restaurants in Germany and France enlisted the help of giant plush bears to separate patrons by placing them on every second seat. Restaurants in Vilnius, Lithuania used designer dressed mannequins to distance restaurant guests and display the latest fashion from local boutiques.
While some meeting etiquette has to change to keep the necessary precaution, it does not mean we fully have to forgo the celebrations – adapting does not have to be disappointing.