Well last week was a historical week that felt almost normal at times. We flew. We took a Lyft. We went to Epcot in Orlando and we even had a national meeting with many of the franchises all across the nation attending. Starting with the flight, what was different? From the moment we got out of our cars until we got to our hotel room we were wearing a mask! Traveling from Tulsa to Florida-that was a really long time, the mask was our friend. I saw one person in the 2 days of flying not wearing a mask and I am sure he didn’t get away with it for long. The announcements and the expectations were set via signs everywhere and a reminder on the intercom system frequently. At American Airlines, if you chose not to wear a mask they simply said you were not allowed back on the plane. And the masks with the vents in them were not appropriate in their rules, so they gave you a different one if that is what you brought. Social distancing was encouraged everywhere we went from the line at the American Airlines check in line to security. During the security check on the way back, I was asked to remove my mask so she could be sure of my identity but not on the way there. I think there are still a lot of inconsistencies during this pandemic on proper protocol. Plexi glass also seems to be a new norm. On the flights, you were offered sanitation wipes but no in flight drinks or snacks were to be had. From a social distancing standpoint, our flight was full 3 of the 4 legs to Orlando. We were in that plane like the usual sardines, but we all had our masks on! Children were excluded in the mask requirement but I am unsure of the age limit.
As we arrived via Lyft, the drivers who usually are chatty (or maybe that is me) was a little more reserved and a little more down to business. We kept our masks on and one driver kept her front seat of the Lyft occupied with a child seat so that no one would be tempted to sit in the front seat. You also were required to check the box yes prior to requesting that you would abide by the mask rule and wear one at all times.
As we arrived to Epcot, there were absolutely no lines. The parking lot literally looked bare. It was heavenly! However, we were walking by ourselves, at least 15 feet away from anyone without our masks, and we were cheerfully asked to put them on way before we got into the park. They held the park at a lower than normal occupancy rate and being able to move through the park made it truly a great place to be. We leisurely went from country to country, enjoying the drinks and the food in each country with no crowd to stop us. Another silver lining of the pandemic?
As restaurants go in Florida, they also had only limited capacity. Interestingly, the holding areas were often crowded spaces and the enforcement simply seems to be on tables served. Not sure it makes a ton of sense, but we may or may not have enjoyed a cold drink while waiting on a table. Another interesting caveat, it was the number of chairs around the bar and not the number of people that caused for alarm. So yeah you could stand at the bar and not be considered part of the headcount. Seems like there are always loopholes!
As you think about traveling, I have heard many people avoiding flights. I think the airlines are making a true effort to clean and sanitize the planes prior to boarding and the mask mandate is in full effect. If you are of the belief that masks do not spread the virus, you are in luck, jump on a plane as the rates are so low. However, if you were hoping to be a little more distant to your fellow passengers, it just might continue to be time for a “road trip”. All in all, there are some things we loved that seemed very “pre-COVID” and normal. We hung out at the hot tub each night before we went to our room without a mask (the resort was very low capacity). We saw people “in person” and really enjoyed the human contact. We enjoyed the meeting, the energy, the passion and we appreciate PMI for being bold enough to allow us to have a meeting that was as close to normal as possible while taking all the precautions necessary. I would do it all again if I had the chance!