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What are your post-pandemic plans? Readers chime in

Wish list. While there’s a long way to go before Covid is “over,” vaccinations have kicked off a new and hopeful chapter after this long and unforgiving year. We asked local residents: What’s the first thing you plan to do after the pandemic?

| 19 Mar 2021 | 10:17

After a year of loss, mask-wearing, and social distancing, it may finally be time to think about life after quarantine. With vaccinations in place, eligibility expanding, and warm weather on the horizon, the coming months offer ample excitement for what may be to come.

We asked readers across the tristate area what they plan to do in their life after Covid-19, and and they did not disappoint. Here’s introducing a new kind of bucket list, titled “Your Post-Pandemic Plans.”

A warm embrace

“Hugging my grandchildren, finally.”
Charles H., Greenwood Lake, N.J.

“Nursing home has been shut for one year, so I have not seen my parents the whole time. I look forward most to seeing my mother.”
Laura W., Byram, N.J.

“See our kids for more than just a wave-thru driveway visit.”
Chelle C., from Milford, Pa.

“See some long-missed friends.”
Chelsea, Newfoundland, N.J.

“Being able to hug people.”
Angela K., West Milford, N.J.

“Have a garden party with my neighbors and friends.”
Moira, Warwick, N.Y.

“Not being in constant fear that my 90-year-old mom will be infected, especially by me. Next would be the fact that I wouldn’t have to walk back to the car because I forgot my mask!”
Donna C., Milford, Pa.

”Family over to visit, outdoor dining, hair salon, and pedicures.”
Joanne, Sparta, N.J.

Retail therapy

“Going to the supermarket.”
Jack L., West Milford, N.J.

“Go shopping in stores.”
Faith, Waymart, Pa.

“Nothing much different. We might go into ShopRite early in the morning for the first time since this all started.”
Michael M., Warwick, N.Y.

“No mask in stores or common work areas!”
Roger, Wantage, N.J.

“Just doing normal activities again, like grocery shopping without fear of running into an old friend and not being able to talk with the mask on.”
Allen T., Sussex, N.J.

Strike up the band

“Visit my frail mother in a nursing home in North Carolina, whom I haven’t seen for more than a year. Second thing — return to work as a classical musician, rehearsing with community choirs and school choirs and concertizing.”
Cherwyn A., Vernon, N.J.

“Attend the Concerts on the Green this Summer.”
Bruce H., Warwick, N.Y.

“Smiles. More relaxed conversations. Concerts downtown and West Point.”
Sandra M., Warwick, N.Y.

“Going to see live music in smaller indoor settings..”
Wendy C., Ogdensburg, N.J.

Bon voyage

“Taking a vacation! Especially a cruise!!”
Heidi M., Dingman’s Ferry, Pa.

“Traveling to see family, and parties with local friends.”
Beth, Milford, Pa.

“Going on vacation without having to check on millions of things.”
Linda J., Middletown, N.J.

“Going on vacation with my children.”
Yvonne, Vernon, N.J.

“Open gyms and travel.”
William A., Hewitt, N.J.

Not so fast

So, are we seeing the light at the end of the tunnel? Or the headlight of an oncoming train?

Public health officials caution that we should not jump the gun too quickly. The next couple of months are critical in ending the spread.

The New York Times warns it will be months before Americans are vaccinated in sufficient numbers for normal life to begin again. And while we may be finally seeing some light at the end of the Covid tunnel, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says we must continue to wear masks and social distance.

“I’m already fully vaccinated, but I know that’s not a golden ticket to just go out and drop my guard yet because so many others are not,” said Wendy Chandler, a survey responder and resident of Ogdensburg, N.J. “I continue to be very diligent when I do go out to still follow the safety guidelines/protocols.”

Chandler also works as a radio host with WSRX LP 107.9 FM in Vernon, N.J. When the pandemic hit, changes were necessary to follow CDC requirements in her workplace. Instead of interviewing her usual slew of guests, attending music concerts, and meeting classic rock legends, she now works from home, where masks are mandatory and guests limited.

“I would be doing everyone a disservice by saying ‘Hey, I got my shot, I can do whatever I want to do now,’” said Chandler. “I don’t think that’s the way we need to look at it. For me, I got it, and I feel better about not getting this disease, but I’m not ready to let my guard down.”

Betsy Utnik, a survey responder from Monroe, N.Y., who has also been vaccinated, shares similar sentiments. “I won’t be doing too much differently than I am doing now,” she said.

Utnik and her husband, Paul, own Plaza Optical Center in Monroe, where they remain diligent in following Covid regulations and requirements. “A lot of people ask how they can try on glasses during a pandemic,” Utnik said. “We disinfect each glasses worn, and have other safety precautions in place.”

Utnik doesn’t think they’ll be turning down the safety measures any time soon. “It’s music to my ears when I hear patients come in and saying it’s a pleasure to come here because they feel safe with the protocols that we have here.”

Utnik and her husband became grandparents last year and received their vaccine shots this January. She hopes to continue to see her new grandchild without fearing of Covid-spread. “It’s given me a peace of mind, but until the kids can be vaccinated, we still have to be careful.”

Eskil Danielson (“Skip”), 78, is a former police chief for Byram Township. He received his vaccinations a couple of months ago. Danielson says that he and his wife have been, like Utnik, well-isolated from close family members. The first thing he plans to do after Covid “ends” is to see his grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

With more than 50 years of emergency medical experience, and most of his family members being first responders, Danielson said he made sure to do his research before getting his vaccination.

“I took my time to assess the pros and cons,” he said. “I figured with my age and my medical conditions it would be a good thing and that’s what ultimately made my decision.”

Taking their shot, or not

When we asked readers what they plan to do after receiving their vaccine, we received an overwhelmingly mixed response. Some said they will not be vaccinated. Others regard the Covid vaccine as a necessity, with some planning to continue observing safety protocols after they are inoculated.

“I’m fully vaccinated and will continue wearing a mask, social distancing etc. until the Covid is eradicated. I feel very safe living and shopping in Warwick and will do what I can to protect others and have them feel safe until told otherwise by the experts.”
Tim M., Warwick, N.Y.

“Nothing. As long as there’s people that are not vaccinated, I’m not letting my guard down.”
Heidi M., Dingmans Ferry, Pa.

“Keep doing what I am doing by social distancing wearing a face mask and not doing anything indoors.”
Jkensek, Highland Lakes, N.J.

“Why would anything change? I did not change anything because of Covid.”
John, Monroe, N.Y.

”I am fully vaccinated and just enjoyed lunch indoors at a restaurant with my sister.”
Gloria, Highland Lakes, N.J.

“I have no intention to be vaccinated.”
Jack, Andover, N.J.

“I’m living life as normal and will not receive any Covid-19 vaccines.”
Sharon K., Hewitt, N.J.

“Wait another two weeks.”
Charles H., Greenwood Lake, N.Y.