The coronavirus pandemic has brought about a lot of changes. Unfortunately, some of those changes could last permanently. That being said, here are 12 things that could become obsolete after the coronavirus pandemic.
A cashless society is something many people have envisioned for quite some time. But, it may actually become a reality sooner than we had imagined. After all, cash is routinely passed among individuals, and with all of that passing money around, microbes get passed around with it as well. In fact, both paper currency and coins can carry anything from benign bacteria to dangerous superbugs. And, when you touch that money and then touch someone’s hand or touch a doorknob, elevator button, or other object people often come in contact with, you could spread whatever infection is on that currency to others. This truly gives a whole new meaning to the term “dirty money.”
11. Water Fountains
According to virologist Angela Rasmussen, who works at the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University, water fountains may soon become a thing of the past. “We don’t have any data about how long the virus remains infectious on water fountains,” Rasmussen told The New York Times. “But, given their proximity to other people’s mouths and noses, I would say you should not [drink from them].”
So, for those of you who go jogging or running on a regular basis, you may want to bypass those public water fountains and bring a bottle of water with you instead.
Handshakes (and high-fives too) could soon become a thing of the past with so many lives that have been lost due to the coronavirus. “When we talk about maximum transmission [of the coronavirus], the hands are the place where I focus on the most,” Dr. Neel Gandhi, a professor of infectious diseases, epidemiology, and global health at Emory University, told ESPN. “When we talk about the high-five and also the handshake, this is almost the perfect pathogen to spread it.”
9. Hugging and Kissing
Before you get worked up into a frenzy, hugging and kissing won’t disappear entirely — especially between family members who live under the same roof. But, platonic hugging and kissing just might. It really isn’t safe, after all. In fact, it’s become a major way of spreading diseases like COVID-19. According to AZ Central, a Latino man contracted the coronavirus after hugging his infected mother. Not only that but many of his other family members who had hugged and kissed each other contracted it as well.
8. Free Samples
If one of your favorite pastimes is going to Costco or Walmart and loading up on the free samples, you might want to come up with a new hobby. That’s because those free samples you love so much could become a thing of the past in the very near future. In fact, Costco has already banned free samples with no idea of when (or even if) they will start offering them again. Needless to say, many consumers expressed disappointment upon hearing the news.
According to an article published by The Daily Telegraph, the “coronavirus has brought Airbnb to its knees.” Airbnb had already lost $322 million in the first nine months of last year and has lost another few hundred million since January 1, 2020. As a result, the company has told investors to expect full-year revenue to be less than half of what it was in 2019. “The impact is massive. It’s never been seen before,” Scott Shatford, chief executive of the Airbnb analytics company AirDNA, told The Daily Telegraph. “Cancellation rates have gone through the roof. Rates that were typically 3pc in good times are now, this week, 90pc for reservations made before March 10.”
Hotels have long replaced physical keys with key cards because they are safer, easy to program, and cheaper to replace if lost or stolen. Some car manufacturers have designed keyless ignition systems that let you start your car’s engine with a simple push of a button. And, many offices use cards with a chip embedded in them to give workers access to the building. But, it might not stop there. Technology just might make physical keys obsolete altogether. “For getting into your house (and your car), the technology that will kill off the physical key is your smartphone. Connecting either via Bluetooth or the Internet, your mobile device will be programmed to lock and unlock doors at home, at the office, and elsewhere,” Kiplinger.com said in an article published on its website. “The secure software can be used on any mobile device. So if your phone runs out of juice, you’ll be able to borrow someone else’s device and log in with a fingerprint or facial scan.” And, if by chance your phone is stolen, all you’d need to do is log in and change the digital keys.
5. Fast-Food Workers
Restaurants have already reduced the number of workers they employ due to the coronavirus pandemic — either because of social distancing rules or because they simply didn’t have enough money to pay them because people aren’t dining out as much anymore. But, restaurants were cutting back on staff even before the pandemic and replacing workers with apps and kiosks for placing orders. According to Kiplinger.com, this trend will likely continue, especially with talks of the coronavirus possibly coming back again in the fall and winter. That’s not to say that humans won’t be working in fast-food restaurants. They’ll still need people to operate and maintain the machinery, and to deal with dissatisfied customers.
4. Touch Screens
ATMs, fast-food ordering kiosks, displays in rental cars, and anything else with a touch screen is likely to become obsolete after the pandemic is over. I mean, think about it. All those germy hands touching those screens will make it easy for people to spread the coronavirus to others. So, what will we do in the near future? We’ll most likely use our smartphones instead. There are plenty of apps that let you order/purchase things right from your phone, so it makes sense for people to use them even more now.
3. The Massachusetts Lottery
Believe it or not, the Massachusetts Lottery is at risk of becoming obsolete. According to WDHD, Lottery Executive Director Michael Sweeney says the reason why is because the acceleration of the coronavirus pandemic has caused industry-wide shifts toward online and cashless interactions. As a result, overall sales have fallen. April’s net profit fell to $71.6 million, nearly $22.5 million less than in April 2019, Sweeney told the Lottery Commission on May 26. The Lottery set a record last year with $1.09 billion in profit.
2. Buffets and Salad Bar Restaurants
With all of those people hovering over open food containers and all of those hands touching the same utensils, many buffet and salad bar restaurants may have to change their dining style or risk closing their doors altogether — which is what happened to salad bar chain, Sweet Tomatoes. The chain, known for its all-you-can-eat soup and salad bar, recently closed all of its locations because it was unable to stay afloat during the coronavirus pandemic.
“The FDA had previously put out recommendations that included discontinuing self-serve stations, like self-serve beverages in fast food, but they specifically talked about salad bars and buffets,” John Haywood, CEO of Garden Fresh, the parent company of Sweet Tomatoes and its sister buffet chain Souplantation, said in an interview with the San Diego Union-Tribune. “The regulations are understandable, but unfortunately, it makes it very difficult to reopen. And I’m not sure the health departments are ever going to allow it,” Haywood added. “We could’ve overcome any other obstacle, and we’ve worked for eight weeks to overcome these intermittent financial challenges but it doesn’t work if we are not allowed to continue our model.”
1. Movie Theaters
Thanks to streaming services like Hulu and Netflix, movie-watching has changed drastically over the years. And, now with the coronavirus pandemic, it’s about to undergo even more drastic changes. In fact, it’s already changed with social distancing orders in place. But, even as we slowly but surely emerge from social distancing, fears of another outbreak may cause some people to turn to streaming services and avoid theaters altogether. Of course, there’s always drive-in theaters, which are making a comeback due. Either way, movie-watching in the future won’t be what it used to be.
Your turn! What other things do you think could become obsolete? Let us know in the comments below.