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Will Museums, Theme Parks, and Restaurants Close due to Coronavirus?

Gettyimages | Thomas Barwick
By Robert Safir

Regardless of how fast it spreads, the coronavirus is bound to have an effect on places where the public gathers. Movie theaters, museums, theme parks, and restaurants - no one place may be unaffected by the Covid-19 virus.

This has already started to happen. James Bond producers announced that “No Time to Die” will postpone its release until late November because so many theaters are closed in areas like South Korea and China. As this page is being written, it was announced that the outbreak in Italy has just surpassed 3,000 infections and 100 deaths. Officials ordered all schools closed. Production on the seventh “Mission Impossible” movie with Tom Cruise has been shut down.

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Reacting or Overreacting?

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If you follow the news, you’ve probably noticed that health officials, politicians, the media, and pundits of all sorts are saying different things about this phenomenon.

Some believe there is a cause for concern. For example, the fact that some cases have emerged where someone contracted the disease without coming into contact with someone or visiting a country where there was an outbreak. This statement, from the head of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at UC Davis Children’s Hospital, reflects the concern of many people who may not even be aware that they’ve become vulnerable to the virus.

And politicians can easily send mixed messages. California Governor Gavin Newsom said the state was prepared but they were “not over-reacting or under-reacting". From the CDC we are told to follow the same precautions that people would for the common cold or flu. Most people would put this idea under the category of “under-reacting.”

With such uncertainty, should people visit areas where the public gathers?

Current Closures

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Gettyimages | David McNew

Word is that other movie releases may be delayed. Beyond that, there are already some closures taking place.

The Louvre in Paris, the world's largest art museum, is closed because of concerns about the coronavirus.

The Tokyo National Museum is closed until March 16.

In Italy, the Leonardo da Vinci museum is closed until further notice.

Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea are closed until March 16.

Also closed in Japan: The Kyoto National Museum, The Kyushu National Museum, The Ghibli Museum, Mitaka, and several other museums.

Some Disney theme parks have announced closings and Universal Studios park in Japan has been closed.

We may be just at the beginning of all of this. It’s difficult to keep up with these closings and other coronavirus news, because like the virus, they’re all happening very fast.

Time for Remote Workers?

Woman with laptop outdoors
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Among the closings that haven’t been discussed much are school closings. These have taken place at various schools, especially elementary schools where children are present and vulnerable.

Health agencies may also recommend that employers encourage their workers to telecommute. According to Dr. Nicole Lurie, “Some people also have a choice about how they get to work whereas others will have to take transit. It’s really about keeping people more apart from another and avoiding really crowded spaces.”

The trend toward remote workers – working completely from home and not going into an office at all – has been the topic of the media lately and in fact, is a growing trend that has no signs of stopping. It’s interesting that the dreaded coronavirus may become a factor in speeding up the trend toward using remote workers.

Time to be Serious

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Late night comedians have plenty of material to use for creating laughs on the topic of the coronavirus. But in reality, the virus needs to be taken seriously because it’s new, it’s unknown, and it’s spreading fast.

The New York Times published a list of six key factors to consider when determining its seriousness.

Is it contagious? Yes, it spreads very easily.

Is it deadly? It can be. But with a fatality rate of more than one percent, it’s much higher than the seasonal flu.

How long until symptoms show up? Between five to seven days. (Which means it can go undetected for a short time.)

What’s causing it to spread around the globe? The fact that people are traveling is the main cause.

Is the response effective? No, and one of the big reasons for this is because there are very few testing kits.

How long until there’s a vaccine? There are some clinical trials, but a vaccine is still at least a year away.

So to the question, will museums, theme Parks, and restaurants close due to coronavirus? This is already happening, and it’s likely to happen more often. But because of what we know already, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Until we have a handle on it, slowing down community spread is the wise way to go.

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