Graphics Designer and National/World Editor
The coronavirus pandemic has claimed the lives of 1.65 million people worldwide. Some places have been hit harder than others. Yet some places have handled the pandemic better than others. As we near the end of this tumultuous year, some call for the end to pandemic restrictions, and a return to normal life. However, the thing is, restrictions depend on how many cases you have in your area. If you have more cases, you have more restrictions. The countries and regions that have succeeded the most in stamping out the viral threat are the ones that followed restrictions to begin with. This means that those places are now experiencing more social and economic freedoms. If people want a return to normal life, they must first abide by the restrictions to lower case numbers.
California and Santa Clara County:
California has reported more cases than most countries in the world. Over the summer, many people disregarded restrictions, which led to a surge in cases in the fall. Santa Clara County, where Los Gatos is located, just recently entered lockdown for the first time since the spring.
Statewide Cases: over 1.7 million
Average Daily Cases Statewide: 32,808
Countywide Cases: 50,315
Average Daily Cases Countywide: 1,285
On Dec. 6, Santa Clara County entered its second coronavirus lockdown. Unfortunately, the citizens of Santa Clara County did not learn from past mistakes, and the region has entered another great toilet paper shortage. Entire isles lay bare in the aftermath of this frantic rush to hoard supplies. Tattered “take one” signs serve as a grim reminder that this pandemic is far from over.
Personally, I still haven’t gotten used to restaurants looking like unused elementary school classrooms. With cases surging throughout California, there is no possibility of indoor seating. Many restaurants have moved their seating outdoors, a much safer alternative. While an outdoor-only seating policy decreases the likelihood of viral transmission, it also decreases seating capacity, causing already struggling restaurants to lose business. Hopefully, if people follow the new restrictions, case tallies will decrease, and rules will become less strict.
Donning masks and practicing social distancing, these two teenage soccer players catch a break from online monotony by passing a ball back and forth. With the new lockdown order in place until at least Jan. 7, many young athletes in Santa Clara County long for a return to in-person games and practices. However, in the name of public safety, many clubs have moved all organized activities completely online. This means many student-athletes resort to small, informal, and COVID-safe group sessions.
As the threat of viral infection increases by the day, businesses are constantly coming up with ways to minimize the spread of COVID-19. At this Subway, refills are not allowed without an entirely different cup. While absolutely necessary, safety measures like this one bring up an important conversation about what effect this increase of disposable items has on the environment.
Under a neon glow, seating outside this Los Gatos store remains vacant. Usually, on a Friday night, this frozen yogurt shop would have a line stretching down the sidewalk. However, as cases rise across Santa Clara county, new necessary restrictions hamper the prosperity of small businesses.
Hawaii and the Big Island:
Hawaii, while it was hit hard in the beginning, has been able to economically recover. For months, travel to and from the island was only possible if visitors quarantined for 14 days. This strict policy minimized case numbers over time, allowing the islands to eventually reopen to visitors who test negative.
Statewide Cases: 19,500
Average Daily Cases Statewide: 117
Islandwide Cases: 1,760
Average Daily Cases Islandwide: 12
All around the hotels, there are signs placed to ensure COVID restrictions are followed and people do their part to prevent the spread and keep the hotels open. The hotels on the Big Island closing like they did in Kauai, would lead to mass unemployment and thousands of locals would not be able to provide for their families.
Chairs on the beach are more spaced out than they were before the pandemic, but people in the chairs are still relatively close together without masks on. People are permitted to remove their masks while in the water, walking on the beach, sitting at their chairs, or drinking at the bar.
The moment travelers arrive at the airport in Kona they must answer screening questions and provide a negative test result. Some are even pulled aside for additional testing. The lift of the travel ban has prompted the island to take many precautions to ensure case numbers don’t spike.
On the Big Island, the majority of restaurants are open and even have entertainment for their customers. They allow people to remove their masks once they are seated, but the staff keeps masks and gloves on for the duration of their shift.
By just a quick glance at the photo, you might assume it is taken prior to the pandemic. People are relaxed in their chairs without masks or social distancing. Since tourists must test negative before coming into the state, most people feel significantly safer on the islands than they do on the mainland.
Australia and New South Wales:
Australia implemented very strict travel bans and restrictions in the early days of the pandemic. Unlike people in U.S. Australian citizens closely followed the rules regarding COVID. As a result, they are now back to an almost completely normal state with virtually no cases.
Countrywide Cases: 28,071
Average Daily Cases Countrywide: 12
Statewide Cases: 4,657
Average Daily Cases Statewide: 4
Bondi Beach, similar to the other beaches in Australia, is packed full of locals enjoying the sunny days. Since there is an extremely low number of cases in Australia, the threat of the virus is insignificant and masks and social distancing are not needed.
Restaurants in all parts of Australia have reopened with pre-pandemic regulations. Large parties are allowed to eat indoors and do not have to wear masks. The restaurants do not have a capacity limit like they do in other parts of the world.
Stadiums are back to their former glory, with thousands of spectators gathering to watch without any COVID precautions. Australians feel safe gathering in such large numbers because for the most part they are isolated from the rest of the COVID stricken world.
Unlike in the U.S., sports in Australia are open for spectators to watch and enjoy. Multiple rugby matches have taken place in Australia, without masks or much social distancing, including this one where Australia faced off against Argentina.
Another perk of the low case numbers is nearly all routine daily activities have resumed. Markets, such as this one, have resumed selling local crafts and food. The markets throughout Australia are the way an abundance of locals earn their livelihood.