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The COVID-19 pandemic has radically changed the way that we live. With shutdowns, mask restrictions, and other limitations, it’s understandable that some things about our lives would have to change, at least for the short term. As some parts of the country emerge from the strictest shutdowns and begin to operate as close to normal as possible, some aspects of normal life haven’t returned. Will life go back to normal? Can we expect to eat at buffet restaurants and share a dessert with our co-workers again? A lot isn't known about what the future will look like. Unfortunately, there are some changes to the modern conveniences we are used to that might not ever come back, at least in the way we knew them.

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Buffets

Salad bars, buffet restaurant chains, and all-you-can-eat establishments have been especially hard hit during the pandemic, as people avoid communal eating situations entirely. Large, national chains such as Old Country Kitchen and Sweet Tomatoes closed, often permanently, as ownership sees no possible way to maintain profitable operations. Since buffets declined in popularity the decade before the pandemic, the challenges caused by the pandemic might mean the end of the buffet concept forever.

Person picking up a buffet entree webphotographeer / Getty Images
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Free samples at warehouse clubs

If you’ve ever visited a Costco, Sam’s Club, or BJs wholesale store, you know that one of the best reasons to shop at a warehouse club is the free samples. For decades, workers passed out unlimited amounts of food and beverage samples to shoppers that passed by the aisles. The companies discontinued food samples at the beginning of the pandemic and, for some stores, this practice may not come back.

Salesman Holding Cutting Board With Assorted Cheese
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Shaking hands

A firm handshake was once an important measure of someone’s character. Depending on the quality of your handshake at a job interview, it could make you appear more or less confident. Covid has taught us all a whole lot more about germs and how viruses spread, so it’s no longer fashionable to shake hands. In the future, there is a good chance that this long-held convention will stay unpopular and a dated practice.

A couple of dudes shaking hands Nick David / Getty Images
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Reusable grocery bags

It’s important to do what we can to protect the environment and limit the use of single-use plastics bags. As a result, we all have a bunch of reusable grocery bags that we either bought or received for free. Unfortunately, some states blocked the use of these bags during the start of the pandemic out of precaution to stop the spread of the virus. It is unclear when the widespread use of these reusable bags will come back into regular practice.

reusable grocery bag monkeybusinessimages / Getty Images
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Indoor concerts with thousands of people

There's nothing quite like standing with thousands of people singing to your favorite artist’s songs. While some outdoor concerts rescheduled, some of the indoor concerts have not been rescheduled yet. It is difficult to imagine going back to crowded concerts inside where you stand right next to hundreds of unmasked strangers. In light of 2020, it seems a bit reckless.

Happy cheering crowd with hands in air at music festival nd3000 / Getty Images
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Public touchscreens

Touchscreen kiosks were growing in prevalence during the 2010s. This includes touchscreen menu boards at fast-food restaurants, directories at malls, and interactive customer engagement kiosks where kids could play games. In light of the contagiousness of the coronavirus, most people avoid touching shared surfaces when they can and prefer surfaces to be cleaned as often as possible. It’s hard to imagine public touchscreens coming back any time soon, especially in spaces where frequent cleaning isn’t possible.

Young woman using interactive touch screen city display to check for information, New York City, USA. lechatnoir / Getty Images
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Sharing food with friends

Humans have a long history of sharing food. We love to try new foods and share foods as an act of being social. However, sharing food also means sharing germs. If someone is sick and you share food with them, there’s a good chance that you’ll get sick, too. While it’s fun to share food, is it worth the possibility of getting sick? In the future, it’s easy to see how we all might still be cautious about who we share foods with.

sharing food at a table Rawpixel / Getty Images
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High fives with strangers

A high five is a fun way to celebrate good news or a win. It’s a classic way for athletes and co-workers to congratulate a job well done. Much like shaking hands with strangers, which can transmit germs and viruses, high fives are less popular as we try not to touch other people. Even when coronavirus levels go low enough to go unreported by major news outlets, will you feel comfortable in the future sharing germs when you don’t have to?

Crowd in stadium watching stock car racing, two men having high-five Jonathan Ferrey / Getty Images
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Long lines

It’s almost iconic... standing in a long line at a theme park or to check out at a grocery store. During the pandemic, companies found ways to get rid of the long lines. Theme parks launched virtual queues you can join on your phone and return to the ride or restaurant entrance when it’s time. Grocery stores have set up delivery services and scan and go programs to scan your items from your phone and even pay in the mobile app.

Cropped shot of the legs of a large crowd of festival goers PeopleImages / Getty Images
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Cash

It's no secret that cash is full of germs and dirt. During the pandemic, contactless payments became the norm. You can tap your card above the card terminal for your payment to be transmitted. It’s hard to think about a time when these convenient technologies will go away in favor of cash.

20 dollar bill under a glass in a restaurant. Thomas Winz / Getty Images

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