NEW YORK (AP) — This is what "normal" will look like for the foreseeable future.
In Connecticut, restaurants are reopening with outdoor-only dining and tables 6 feet apart. In Beverly Hills, California, the rich and glamorous are doing their shopping from the curb along Rodeo Drive. And preschools around the U.S. plan to turn social distancing into an arts-and-crafts project by teaching children how to "create their own space" with things like yarn and masking tape.
As the U.S. and other countries loosen their coronavirus restrictions, it's back to business, but not business as usual. In fact, it is becoming all too clear that without a vaccine against the scourge, the disruptions could be long-lasting, and the economy won't be bouncing right back.
In Italy, where good food is an essential part of life, once-packed restaurants and cafes are facing a huge financial hit as they reopen with strict social distancing rules after a 10-week shutdown.
Experts warned as many as one-third of the country's restaurants and bars could go out of business, up to 300,000 jobs in the sector could vanish and losses could reach $32 billion this year.
"We have to turn upside down all the activity that we did before," lamented chef Raffaele di Cristo, who must wear a mask and latex gloves as he prepares food at the popular Corsi Trattoria in Rome. "Everything is changed."
Corsi reopened this week with half its tables removed to ensure the mandated 3-foot spacing. Hand sanitizing gel was placed at the entrance, and a new ordering system was installed so customers could read the menu on their phones instead of listening to waitresses recite the specials.
In Connecticut, restaurants that reopened Wednesday for outdoor dining are required to rearrange workstations so employees don't face one another, and stagger shifts and break times to minimize contact among them. Markers must be installed to encourage customers to keep their distance from one another.
In Glastonbury, Connecticut, the Max Fish restaurant opened for lunch with 16 tables on outdoor patios. Customers filled about half the tables in the early afternoon, and all the tables were reserved for dinner, general manager Brian Costa said.
Friends and retirees Debbie Lawrence and Jill Perry, who often ate out together before the outbreak, enjoyed a meal at Max Fish.
"It was terrific. It's just wonderful to be outside," Lawrence said. "But I'm still a little leery of going to any stores."
Some of the new rules for dining out echo reopening guidelines released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They are intended for child care centers, schools, day camps, mass transit systems, restaurants, bars, and other businesses and organizations.
Amid the wave of reopenings, many Americans remain wary, according to a new survey from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. The poll says 83 percent of Americans are at least somewhat concerned that lifting restrictions in their area will lead to additional infections.
The poll also exposed a widening partisan divide on the topic, with Democrats more cautious and Republicans less anxious as President Donald Trump urges states to "open up our country." Only about a third of Republicans said they are very or extremely concerned about additional infections, compared with three-quarters of Democrats.
About 5 million people worldwide have been confirmed infected, and more than 328,000 deaths have been recorded, including more than 93,000 in the U.S. and around 165,000 in Europe, according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University, based on government data. Experts believe the true toll is significantly higher.
With the virus far from vanquished, the reopenings could prove to be a stop-and-start, two-steps-forward-one-step-back process.
Ford temporarily halted production at two of its assembly plants Tuesday and Wednesday in Chicago and Dearborn, Michigan, after three autoworkers tested positive for the virus. Work was stopped to sanitize equipment and isolate those who were in contact with the infected employees.
Detroit's Big Three automakers restarted their U.S. factories Monday after a two-month shutdown.