“Return to Normal” What are your signals/Indicators/metrics?

Similar to how often it is suggested you have a plan/criteria for when to bug out or bunker in… What are your plans and the signals/indicators you’re looking at for a “return to normal” from this past year?  

My own personal thoughts:  I’ve been vaccinated, but I’m also cautious but nature.  And a huge introvert… so not hurting to go out and party like its 2019, exactly.

I’m looking for sustained downward trends in both covid cases and deaths, and I’m looking at local/regional as well as state and national levels.  My region seems to be doing pretty well, seem to be declining to pre-first-wave numbers if the trend hold for a couple more days.  State and national numbers aren’t as great (seem to be at levels from last summer).  The majority of the news I read seems to indicate that the vaccines are fairly effective even with many/most of the variants, keeping my fingers crossed there but paying close attention.

That being said, my cautious nature and general civility towards the mask mandates of my local businesses keep me from acting like this is all over.  I’ve gone back to the gym, but with mask left on at all times and on off peak hours.  Haven’t eaten out yet, but when I do it will probably only be outside for a while.  But I might, and this sounds crazy, hang out unmasked with small groups of friends who have also been vaccinated and are at least moderately responsible.  Probably not at bars/clubs though, more likely outside or private residences.

So just curious, what are your metrics/methods?  Not proposing/wanting to presume anyone to be less safe than they are comfortable with, just curious what your risk threshold is these days.


  • Comments (41)

    • 6

      We have set a 60% local vaccination rate as a threshold to start doing things that involve being indoors with strangers, like going to the gym or starting music classes with our toddler.  It’s a somewhat random number, but hopefully at that point the combination of vaccine and natural immunity should keep spread down pretty low.  Everyone’s situation is a little different.  My wife and I are both vaccinated but out toddler isn’t.  He’s low-risk but we are in a position to keep him pretty well protected from COVID, so that’s our goal.  If we weren’t worried about him we would do a little more, but not much.  Until community spread is very low or he gets vaccinated we are going to stay on the side of caution.  Relaxing for us has been wearing cloth or surgical masks instead of N95s to go shopping and having outdoor get togethers with a few vaccinated friends and family.  We won’t see the inside of a restaurant, theater, or bar for quite a while.

    • 4

      My “return to normal” from the past year will be determined by when I can fly international routes again.

      Am waiting for a US gateway city to an Asian city to have a designated “bubble” – like the pending Singapore – Hong Kong “bubble”.

      My risk threshold is about the same as going  ffrom Virginia into Washington, D.C. for a wedding reception. The reduced attendance reception is allowed but no dancing permitted.  Who makes up these regulations ?! Although not publicized much, about 800 – 1,000 people enter and leave HK on a daily basis. Official business, of course.

    • 7

      Last month, my wife & I went out to eat for the first time in a year.  It had been 3 weeks since we received our 2nd shot, and we felt much safer.  We haven’t been out again yet because we don’t go out much anyway.

      National numbers are getting much better as are our local ones but I’m still concerned with the huge number of folks not getting vaccinated, with plenty of vaccine available.  So I still wear my mask when I go out & still sanitize my hands whenever they could get infected.  I’m afraid it will be a long time before I go back to normal, but now is so much better than last year.  So there is hope.

    • 7

      Even though my local grocery store says masks are still required, I saw about 20-30 people roaming around yesterday without one. Our local library also says that you don’t have to wear masks in any government building anymore. Guess cases are pretty low here and people think they can go back to normal. 

      Still wearing mine though, while it’s probably not doing much to protect me from others, if I by chance ever got covid I would hate to spread it to others.

      • 5

        We are in a third wave here in Manitoba and restrictions tightened way up again on Sunday at midnight. We have some of the variants and there are young people dying now. One of my friends just lost his sister in law and a girl around twenty years old just died.

        When I picked up plants on Saturday, there were people in that greenhouse without masks and they have to wear them here. I couldn’t believe it and dodged everybody who wasn’t wearing one.

        Nothing will go back to normal until it is stopped everywhere, including the  mutations and variants. 

      • 4

        Good morning Supersonic,

        We’ve got an additional mask problem here.

        Even if legimate reason not to wear a mask in grocery store eg breathing problems, there have been flare-ups with verbal confrontations.  These types of confrontations can easily mushroom into worse situations.

        Whenever I see this type of situation occuring, I immediate leave store.

        There are little to no enforcement mechanisms for mask-wearing requirements. 

      • 5

        You are right about that. With how much stress everyone has been put through this past year, tensions are high and some people are just about to receive that last straw that broke the camel’s back.

        Also with many people carrying guns, situations can get deadly very fast. If I encountered arguing that is escalating, I will be very cautious and try and stay clear. But be able to offer assistance if needed and someone clearly is getting the snot beat out of them.

    • 6

      When I see the reopening and mass attendance of movie theaters, bowling allies, and sports stadiums, then I will feel like things are going back to normal. So far all of those are still closed where I’m at.

    • 7

      When the blast shields come down in front of every register at the grocery store, then i’ll know things are back to normal.

    • 2

      Whatever we think of as being normal, post Covid life will never be the same as it was before the pandemic.

      • 1

        Why do you think that is? You don’t believe that in a year or two we might be back to how things were before? 

      • 2

        no, not entirely, there will be differences.

        for instance, entry into some indoor venues will be restricted to those who can prove vaccination, those without will be refused entry.

        other things will be different too, like employment.

    • 5

      This is fascinating.  The original questions was asked during a time of dwindling COVID cases and some relaxing of restrictions.  I work in healthcare, and I was skeptical at first but started to be lulled into a sense of security (though I still haven’t eaten inside a restaurant yet). I was even starting to believe that the vaccine would be successful at eradicating COVID.

      Then came Delta, and everything is different.  People get sicker faster and vaccinated people can get and spread COVID and not know it.  And the other variants starting to develop are even more scary.

      So, my (educated) conclusion is that there is no way to reach herd immunity if the vaccine doesn’t actually stop the spread.  So, currently only the vaccinated are protected, and the unvaccinated are at high risk if they don’t quarantine.  They can’t hang out safely near anyone if anyone may be carrying it and not know it. 

      Epidemiologists smarter than me are saying that this is never going away, and we are going to have to adapt to it.  It will reach a point when you will get your annual COVID shot and go about your business and need masks in some places and some people get sick enough and die every year but most don’t. And it may take a couple years to get to that point yet.

      As an RN, the first time I put on a mask for this pandemic I knew for certain I was going to be wearing one at work every day until I retire. Much like the AIDS epidemic brought forth universal precautions.

      • 1

        I am curious about what your predictions are about those unwilling to ever get vaccinated are. You mention how we will reach a point when we get an annual COVID shot, we still will need masks in some places, and people will still continue to get sick and die, but what about the unvaccinated? Do you feel like they will just be allowed to continue as they are and just not wear a mask if they don’t want to in locations that say [Masks not required for fully vaccinated individuals]? Just like Supersonic’s comment above, I doubt everyone not wearing a mask in my grocery store is not fully vaccinated and they just don’t want to wear one.


      • 2

        It will depend on where you live. We currently have indoor and outdoor mandates in my state, vaccinated or not. But since infection control in the states is tied to politics, that won’t be true everywhere.  

        Many doctors here are saying it’s no longer “vaccinated or unvaccinated” anymore: its vaccinated or sick. That everyone unvaccinated will get it eventually, unless they want to spend their time as extreme hermits, stay home, don’t work and don’t spend time with other people.  Very few will actually do that.  

        So being unvaccinated means you are nearly guaranteed to get COVID and get really sick. Probably more than once.  We have some early treatments that are very effective, but that’s no guarantee you will survive. AND right now in most places people are being treated for free, but that will stop at some point.  Regeneron (the best treatment) costs $1500, and you need to go to a hospital or clinic for an IV or injection, and you need to see a doctor for a prescription.  The treatment is free now, but the other two pieces are costing people a lot of money. If you don’t have good insurance you get a big bill.

        Many unvaccinated will get COVID as well, but are much less likely to need treatment.

        Honestly I’m at risk of exposure every day and it’s not dying that I’m most afraid of.  I’m much more afraid of becoming a long hauler.  There are healthcare workers who got COVID at the beginning of the pandemic who are now on disability for fatigue, permanant damage to lungs, brain fog, etc. They are still too sick to work. And a good estimate is if you get COVID you have a 30% chance of having symptoms mess with you for a long time.

      • 1

        thats sounds like me:


        stays home,

        dosent work….retired,

        dosent mix with other people.

        suits me!

      • 1

        I respect that.  

      • 3

        I have to agree with the fear of being a long hauler. I have been vaccinated but I sit here suffering from a mild case of Covid. I’ve been isolating since I first felt ill and I’ve now had a test to confirm my infection. Drinking plenty of fluids, taking paracetamol and resting. I can’t imagine how ill I could have been. 

        I’ve never believed that the vaccine would prevent contagion, more a means to reduce the severity of illness, which in my case it has done. Happy with that and at the end of the day, the herd immunity will now probably kick in while the vaccine stops you getting too sick. 

        My fear is those that refuse vaccination become vectors for the disease to mutate and create more variants at home rather than imports which is what we are mainly seeing at the moment.

        I think the reason why World leaders have been somewhat draconian is the drain this disease can have on a country’s healthcare system. Hospitals and staff overwhelmed with seriously ill people. In my area we were lucky that our local healthcare system creaked but held and I have to say, I tip my hat to you Courtney, it must have been difficult.

        I do think things will return to normal, eventually and in certain areas of life, things already have but I think we are another year away from the old normal yet.

      • 1

        Hope you get feeling better soon!

      • 2

        Thankyou!  On the mend and taking things easy. 

      • 1

        Hang in there JennyWren!

      • 5

        Thank you Courtney, reinforces my (uneducated) opinion.

        Anyway, on topic, my supply of 3M N95s is only growing, good deals to be had on all sorts of disinfectant hand cleaner, etc. I am stocking up now before the next variant comes along. Read an article back some months explaining how greater transmissibility is actually a worse mutation than greater mortality and that has been proven now. Which of course doesn’t preclude a more lethal strain from evolving on top of Delta.

        The next mutation is only a matter of time with 8 billion incubators.

      • 1

        What N95’s have you been getting? Where at?

      • 2

        The regular 3M 8511s Liz —the kind with the vent.  I tried a bunch when the 3Ms weren’t available, including the KN95s and they are mostly trash. Amazon has 3Ms right now from $27-$30 for 10, I have them on subscription for $24. Courtney certainly can recommend from experience but these are the best fitting with the wrap around headbands that don’t break and good nose-clip thingy. Don’t leave them in the sun too long though as the bands will breakdown.

      • 2

        Oh and you gotta shave to get a good fit, not you Liz, LOL

      • 1

        Thank you Pops. And yes! I am so glad that I do not have to shave my face.

    • 1

      I’m not seeing any signs of normality returning, I see society slowly still in terminal decline. Take Covid out of the equation and western societies are still decaying steadily, Crime is up, Costs of foods, fuels, materials is still going ever upwards, The tax burden is growing, Global mass migration is continuing and negatively impacting western societies. Health costs rising, standards of education falling. Climate change can be added to the mix along with Extremism and Terrorism.  Our streets are ever less safe, our homes and jobs ever more vulnerable.

      No Sir I see no improvement, just a need a strong need to be ever more self sufficient, self sustaining, self reliant and secure as possible whilst doing my best to avoid having any of my family enter cities for any reason.

      And judging by the number of requests I’m getting from individuals and families to help them change their livestyles and ways of living to something more secure , sustainable and safe I think many others feel the same.

      • 2

        The population is only going to continue to increase, resources are finite, and there is only so many houses and land to populate. Don’t forget that one. It already boggles my mind how many people are alive and striving to make it in life like I am. Just look next time you are driving and see hundreds of cars pass you. Each of those cars has 1 -4 people and each of those people have their own lives, desires, dreams, house, need for food and water, and more. 

      • 2

        I caught the middle of a fiction author on the radio when I was driving the other day (not sure who). The interviewer called him a writer of dystopian future.  He disagreed and said he was a utopian future author because “the bar on what is utopia is lowered.  If we survive mass extinction, that is utopia.” 

      • 1

        Western societies bar on quality of life has lowered a heck of a lot in recent decades. Cities get bigger, society more urbanised which leads to overcrowding, less living space, higher crime, more epidemics, poorer quality and smaller homes (but ever more expensive) , more people living homeless or in unsuitable properties, overcrowding, poorer public health, higher levels of water and air pollution, unreliable utilities, less green and liesure areas etc .. Food and clothing is travelling much further to reach the consumer, medical facilities are frequently overwhelmed, And of course losses of our civil rights and liberties and pay has not kept up with inflation.It is the way of all empires and societies, they rise, they thrive, they decline and they fall, but there is always a hardy core of enlightened, talented and rugged resistant people who survive and start rebuilding.

        And that is all BEFORE we thrown sedentary lifestyles, obesity, drug and substance abuse, our youth living online, kids being driven everywhere, processed foods, social engineering ( brainwashing in schools) , societies divorce from nature etc etc…………………………………. Thank goodness for for prepping, off gridding, homesteading, urban survival, home schooling, self reliance etc

    • 3

      The following is a post by the great forum member named Bob. He accidentally posted it to another thread and asked me to move it to here.

      “Good morning,

      Will lose web access when adverse weather arrives soon.

      As of now, soon 1 Sep 21 (in an hour plus), the socio-political restructuring will guarantee no near return to our “advanced-level” society.

      The QUALITY of medical care is substantially reduced. It’s availability is reduced. It parallels getting new pharmameuticals.

      Foods are now a recognized, major part of normalicy NEVER returning. The US spends as much on diabetes care each year as we do on oil. Even beet sugar eclipsed by the corn sweeteners. Some of my area’s gasoline just went from 10% corn to 15 % corn.

      Society is already being restructured. Anticipate a 4 day work week. “They” say w/ same 5 days pays. Anticipate something differently.

      Military restructuring is well underway. Did anyone notice the USMC Pratorian Guard being replaced by National Guard units ? Revisit 6 Jan 21 at Capitol and office buildings. Look for a Januassary Corps like the Ottoman Turns used.

      US Government debt service now by liquidating assets – consider one on top of list: residential read estate. There’s a legimate reason my kids do NOT want this place. The value is reduced with tax increases and value shared by public sector.

      US Government funds traditionally by Congressional appropriations. Now the Federal Reserve Board of Governors funds by their printing press. Inflation is now a major tax source.

      Watch the rapid phaseout of the private car. Did you note that the new electric Ford F 150 truck is for the Chinese market ? Judy Garland explained what our substitute will be:

      “Clang, clang went the trolley.”

      Can you truthfully answer who won the Cold War ?

      Recommend read or reread Oswald Spengler’s 2 volumn (a couple of years seperate the volumns) book “The Decline of the West”.


      I told my kids to take the local community college course re EMT.”

      • 2



        Thank you, Gideon.

        My day is made.

      • 2

        Atlas shrugged come true.

    • 1

      Since this thread has gotten an uptick in responses lately I thought it would be good to add some context – this post occurred on May 9, the national numbers on May 9 were very clearly trending downward – See the call-out box below:
      Screen Shot 2021-09-01 at 7.22.52 PM

      After May 9th, that trend continued for about a month, bottoming out on nationally around June 21, over a month later before starting to rise again.

      source: https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/us/

      Perhaps I can rephrase the question – will you ever return to pre-pandemic behavior – eating at restaurants, going to a grocery store without a mask on, etc?  If the numbers went to zero for a day, a week, a month, a year – are there any circumstances where you would feel safe going out in public again?

      • 0

        Good morning Rich DC,

        Could not access world meter.  Page removed.

        In specific reply to question;

        Yes, eating at restaurants can be OK. I envision less restaurants and those with business licenses will be using the UV lights like Hong Kong restaurants use. No more self-serve buffets. More staff will be present for frequent cleaning.

        Grocery store shopping w/o a mask ? This depends on law enforcement presence in area.  The mask is a form of socio-political control. Masks are useless against viruses eg COVID-19 and variants unless at minimum using a N95 or higher grade or P series. A private citizen can invoke violence re masks.

        Do note the presented numbers of infected are what’s presented to public. It’s difficult to accept that religious exemptions and those who smoke tobacco or marijuna in public do not really distort the presented numbers. Just about everything is politicized. It must be accepted that the virus tests are not practical.  A sailor can return from Africa or South America to NAS Norfolk and several hours later shopping at COSCO Pentagon City, Arlington. The vector function will be at work. 

      • 1

        Eating out and going without masks yes highly likely, entering cities no chance, they are finally off limits to my family.

      • 1

        we havent been to a city since we moved here 12 years ago, too far and it takes too long, and for what?to eat out? I prefer home cooking- at least we know whats in it.

        there is one positive to living “in the middle of nowhere” at least the cases of covid are low and nobody here has died of it.

      • 5

        OMG if we ever get down to zero cases anywhere, then I will gladly return to my old unmasked, non social distancing ways, because that means we finally have a vaccine that doesn’t allow spread and everyone has either been vaccinated or survived the last variant. It will have run it’s course.

        But I don’t think that will happen any time soon. With the exception of smallpox, a vaccine has never eradicated a disease.

        So let’s say it becomes one of those floating viruses out there, that everyone gets every 2 years or so. And the death toll is the same as the flu.

        As long as we have an effective vaccine that doesn’t allow spread, I will be happy to go back to being back to normal behavior as soon as I can trust that it works for all variants and the rate of infection seems normal.

        Long answer, but there it is.

        The last pandemic/plague we had was the AIDS crisis.  It changed human behavior and medicine permanently.  Safer sex and condoms are now the norm, with regular testing for those who engage in risky behavior (sex workers, addicts, etc). And doctors won’t touch body fluids and blood without gloves. And if they do they also get tested. And we developed medications that allow HIV patients to live a long life with the disease. There is no “back to normal,” and the world has moved on and hardly notices.

        (the first healthcare worker to get AIDS was a married nurse in Iowa who worked the ED. She put pressure on a severe wound with her ungloved hands ((Can you imagine??)).  She had been gardening the day before and was all scratched up by blackberry bushes. Since then we don’t touch body fluids without gloves.)

        Much of Asia wears a mask when they are sick as a matter of courtesy to those around them.  They’ve been doing it a long time. That (along with masking healthcare practitioners) is probably where we are headed, and one day it will be so normal we will forget where it started.  So that masking  + testing + reasonable treatment + regular vaccine is the future I see. 

      • 2

        So let’s say it becomes one of those floating viruses out there, that everyone gets every 2 years or so. And the death toll is the same as the flu.

        Still… Covid is really scary to me because of some of the permanent damage that it gives to people like not being able to taste, brain damage, or lung damage. I haven’t been the first one in line for my annual flu shot, but I probably will be with this one.

    • 2

      We will be back to normal when this guy and his hoodlum friends get off my porch:


      I think they’re some kind of homeowners association (I can tell by the leather outfits and the automatic weapons).