Socializing in the age of 'rona: Who's up for outdoor dining in tiny enclosed glass cabins?

To cleanse the palate. These people are trying, God love ’em. It’ll take creativity by the service industry to provide enough protection for patrons in 2020 that they feel comfortable enjoying a night out in the general vicinity of strangers. And this is nothing if not creative.

Let me ask you a possibly stupid question about the clip below, though.

Wouldn’t they be better off … without the cabin? Just put the tables outdoors, several feet apart, and let sunshine and open-air ventilation take care of the rest. The cabin will (hopefully) keep you safe from germs spread by diners at the next table. But if your dining companion turns out to have COVID-19, that small enclosed space is basically going to funnel the virus right into your airway. Watch, then read on.

Patrons would be safe so long as they dined only with members of their own household, people whom they’re already in quarantine with. Which, I suppose, is baked in the cake until we have a vaccine.

But there’s another problem. Staff will have to disinfect the entire cabin after every meal to ensure that an infected couple doesn’t pass the virus along to the next couple to dine there. How long would it take waiters to clean every surface inside *and* properly ventilate the cabin?

Imagine arriving for dinner for the second evening seating at this place and passing a guy on his way out who has a dry cough. Bon appetit.

There’s only one safe, effective alternative that I can imagine: Personal feedbags. Everyone is issued a face covering with an attached pouch from the restaurant upon arrival; when the food is ready you lift off the mask/bag, they scoop the food in, then you put it on and eat like a dirty animal.

Am I kidding? Am I not? Even I don’t know. All I know is that socializing in the age of the plague will require sacrificing a certain amount of dignity.

Speaking of which:

President Donald Trump is thirsting to hold campaign rallies again. And among his campaign and White House advisers, a possible solution has been discussed that could allow for such MAGA gatherings even in the midst of a global pandemic: the mostly defunct, rural tradition of the drive-in movie theater…

Under such a scenario, Trump-loving attendees would roll up in their cars and be required to mostly remain in their respective vehicles as the president addressed them in-person from the outdoor stage.

One of the three sources, a senior administration official, said they were planning on pitching it directly to President Trump as early as next week. It is not clear if Trump, who has made no secret about his love of packed arenas, has privately weighed in on the drive-in theater idea yet. But he’s indicated that he wants to get back on the road as soon as possible.

That’s creative too, and the drive-in concept is fun, but how many people realistically could attend a drive-in rally without turning it into a total logistical/traffic nightmare? A few hundred? Would there even be crowd noise discernible during Trump’s remarks? He feeds off the cheers, but a few hundred people can only do so much for him.

Maybe put live mics on attendees instead? That could produce some … interesting soundbites.

Prediction: Trump’s going to start kicking around the idea of organizing traditional rallies with live crowds by invitation only for fans who can prove they have COVID antibodies. That would be highly risky considering that science still hasn’t proved yet that people who’ve recovered from the disease now enjoy immunity, but maybe we’re not far away from that. Imagine a MAGA rally composed entirely of people who beat coronavirus. Make America immune again!

Jazz Shaw May 06, 2021 7:58 AM ET