The future of fun | Inquirer Business

The future of fun

With our country gradually lifting quarantine restrictions, many of us have found ourselves dealing with the “new normal.” Offices, restaurants and other businesses permitted to operate under the general community quarantine (GCQ) and its modified version (MGCQ) have enforced measures to ensure social distancing, safety protocols and hygienic practices.

If you’re the kind who thinks ahead, however, you might be wondering how these measures will be applied to other establishments once the quarantine is lifted. In particular, how will places of leisure and athletics be able to enforce the “new normal” once they are allowed to operate? Will it be a while before we get to play sports, visit bars or even watch cinemas again?

Here are some cases from other countries which show how people are adapting to the “new normal” in areas of sports and entertainment.


Though we might have to adjust the way we unwind during the COVID-19 era, these examples remind us that there is still much reason to enjoy life despite the challenges.


Reinvention of malls

The shopping mall has always been the go-to place of Filipinos on weekends. It is probably one of the first places people would flock to once the imposed quarantines end. If you’re one of those itching to visit the mall soon, however, be prepared for several changes.

In the U.S., many shopping malls resumed full operations last May. These establishments were allowed to open provided that they implement safety measures which include having hand sanitizer stations, marked queuing spots and segregated exit and entry points. In addition, drinking fountains, children’s playgrounds and other communal areas were marked as “not for use”. Lastly, seats in food courts were re-arranged and reduced to minimize contact among patrons.

A brainchild of the group Revolution Event Design and Production, these bumper tables keep guests in a bar in Maryland safe.

Bars and bumper cars

If you’re the type who loves bar hopping and drinking out with friends, be prepared for some unique modifications in your favorite joints once the quarantine ends. In Maryland, where bars and restaurant were allowed to open considering several precautions, one restaurant has implemented a creative way of enforcing distance between patrons.

The Fish Tales Bar and Grill of Ocean City customized their tables to make sure customers will be able to enjoy a pint of beer safely. The idea was conceived by the group Revolution Event Design and Production.

Each table has been fitted with caster wheels and inflatable tube edges to enforce social distancing. With many patrons enjoying their beers outside the restaurant, the sight of people in giant float rings on the dock has become a viral sensation. With the inflatable tubes and wheels bringing to mind arcade bumper cars, many see the restaurant’s effort to maintain social distancing as a fun change of scenery. Expect that similar measures will also be implemented in our local bars and hangouts.

It may be a while before stadiums become filled again with spectators.

Sports and social distancing

When it comes to athletics, not everyone gets the same share of challenges. Perhaps the sport that has been least affected by the pandemic is golf, as it is geared towards solitary gameplay. Others, such as tennis and running, could still be played normally provided that participants maintain social distancing. Sports such as basketball and football, however, have taken the biggest hit as they require physical contact. Many of these contact sports remain discouraged even in non-quarantine areas.


The biggest effect of COVID-19 on the sports industry would perhaps be most felt by lovers of live games and auditoriums. According to Peter Bach, director of the Center for Health Policy and Outcomes in the US, large gatherings present the largest risks of virus transmission because the enforcement of social distancing and face mask use is nearly impossible. So until a vaccine or cure is found, expect that pep rallies, championship games and other large-scale events will be put on hold. In Australia, where the last death from COVID-19 has been a week ago, professional sports are slowly resuming their seasons. Crowds, however, remain prohibited from viewing the games live.

The Safebeach by Umberto Menasci proposes the use of plexiglass boxes to protect beach patrons.

Isolation at the beach

As lockdowns around the world are slowly being lifted, many people start heading for the beach to enjoy some much needed sun and surf. With the threat of crowd gatherings, however, several designers have come up with design proposals to ensure that everyone can enjoy the beach safely.

Italian designer Umberto Menasci proposed the “Safebeach” model, which makes use of plexiglass enclosures to ensure social distancing. His concept intends to make one’s visit to the beach a scheduled and exclusive activity. According to Menasci, beach revelers would remain safe from infection by being enclosed in a plexiglass box. These would be open on top to allow ventilation but would have to be taller than the users to prevent the spread of pathogens. To use these facilities, visitors would have to reserve slots beforehand, preferably through an app to prevent queuing.

The Art Theatre Long Beach is just one of numerous cinema houses that have modified their seating arrangements to ensure social distancing.

The COVID-19-free cinema

Despite the popularity of online streaming services, cinemas remain a beloved hangout of dating couples and movie fanatics. With the threat of COVID-19, however, many movie houses remain closed even in countries which have eased their lockdowns. Those that have resumed operations have been forced to reduce the number of seats inside the theater to ensure social distancing.

To exemplify, the Art Theatre of Long Beach in the U.S. took out 50 of its seats to ensure patrons remain safe. Luxury cinemas such as IPIC, meanwhile, were lucky enough as they already have existing spacious seating. These establishments, however, underwent modifications to include devices such as thermal scanners and electromagnetic disinfectant sprays. With large gatherings still discouraged, expect that watching a movie outside your home would become an exclusive and valuable affair.

Leisure in a time of pandemic

Though nowadays only essential activities are being allowed under GCQ and MGCQ, all other activities are set to evolve in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The ideas and examples set by establishments from abroad assure us that life can still go on even if we continue to battle a deadly disease.

The “new normal” may change our ways of revel and fun, but it shouldn’t keep us from celebrating the human spirit.

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TAGS: COVID-19 pandemic, social distancing

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