I was supposed to go off on a day trip to Real, Quezon to surf this weekend. Had to cancel when my dog Calvin wound up with a bum tummy on the eve of my departure. So I took the free time I suddenly had to do some “housekeeping” at Tiendesitas, one of my preferred places to hang out for some “me time” these past two years.
I am very rarely out of my home these days. (Even if I am vaccinated and boosted, we have one household member who can’t be vaccinated yet so we’re taking due precautions.) With more things available online for delivery right to my doorstep, I have even less excuse to shop in a mall.
But there are some things that need to be done in-person. Tiendesitas is one of the lower-risk places to be because of its layout. Shops are open, air-ventilated, and there’s plenty of space to steer clear of other people.
I took our two Shih Tzu dogs to be groomed for the first time in two months, dropped off our electronics and plastics waste, and bought my dad some needed workout equipment. While waiting for the pet shop to finish grooming Calvin and Gidget, I had a coffee at the al fresco area of a doughnut shop.
At this point two years into the pandemic, it’s a matter of risk assessment and tolerance. Now that we know more about the COVID-19 virus and how it’s transmitted (airborne in poorly ventilated spaces), there are certain things I feel a bit more confident doing than back in 2020.
Getting personal services like haircuts and waxing: as long as I wear a well-fitted ventilator mask (like an N95, KN95, or KF94) and don’t spend too long inside the salon, I feel this is a reasonably low-risk activity — especially with most big establishmentss testing their personnel regularly. I would probably be looking for a stand-alone salon rather than one inside an enclosed mall where you’re more likely to breathe shared air. (Unfortunately, Tiendesitas doesn’t have one like that currently…)
Coffee al fresco: As long as there aren’t too many people sharing the same space outdoors, I feel a little freer to unmask and enjoy a coffee. I haven’t had a full meal out yet, though.
I have a renewed appreciation for commercial developments that incorporate the open air into their design, and so far have steered clear of the malls I used to frequent. At the same time, I feel even more the lack of open-air public spaces that are free to use for anyone. We need more parks!