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It’s hard to know what to do right now. We’ve been told to stay home, and be socially distant, but without a cohesive, coherent mandate from the federal government, much of the country has been left to interpret these maxims for themselves. The entire state of California, as of midnight, is sheltering in place. This strategy goes a step beyond what’s in place in New York, where bars, restaurants, theaters, salons, and many other services are closed. With nowhere to go (except work, for those who must) and nobody to see, what, exactly, are we allowed to do?
For one: take a walk. This is still okay, and even encouraged, so long as you are alone. (If you’re sheltering with your partner and/or kids, it’s okay for them to come too.) Getting outside, when we can, for fresh air and exercise is vital to our physical and mental health. This is easier said than done in certain parts of the country — here in Brooklyn, my daily jogs or walks have incorporated a fair bit of self-conscious, Frogger-like dodging away from other pedestrians going where they need to go. It’s easy to feel angry at people who aren’t observing the six-feet-away rule, and I do. I am also happy just to see people, and have waved hello to more strangers in the past week than ever before.
A co-worker this morning told me that yesterday, she and her children took a walk in their neighborhood to “visit” friends, whom they caught up with through the friends’ open first-floor window. She then second-guessed herself. “That’s kosher, right?” Yes, this is kosher. This fits well within the public health guidelines we’ve been given. It’s been sort of funny, and sad, to hear so many friends and family members asking each other what they’re allowed to do right now. We all want a leader so badly. We can’t trust so many of the ones we’ve got. What we have is evidence that this has worked for other countries, and hope that we will one day be on the other side of this. Until then, stay home, unless you’re taking a careful walk.