The Absurd (and Sometimes Creepy) Ways Businesses Are Enforcing Social Distancing

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Author of The Blackout Book and the online course Bloom Where You’re Planted

2020 has been a disturbing year all the way around, what with a pandemic, fear of contagions, mandatory lockdowns, and economic devastation. We’ve had everything from a deadly virus to aliens to murder hornets. And just when you thought this year, couldn’t get any stranger, hang on to your halo.

Wait until you see some of the flabbergasting ways businesses are enforcing social distancing measures.

Mannequins, cardboard people, and sex dolls

Places that used to be bustling with human customers and spectators are now being populated with…mannequins, cardboard cut-outs, and sex dolls. It sounds like I’m making this up. I’m not.

Photo Credit: CNN

For example, Patrick O’Connell, the chef and proprietor of The Inn at Little Washington in Washington, Virginia, has teamed up with a local theater to dress mannequins in WW2 era finery to fill booths and make sure customers “maintain social distancing.”

…while adding an element of fun, the mannequins really hope to provide some of what has been lacking as many Americans seek connection in an isolating pandemic.

“We’re all craving to gather and see other people right now,” O’Connell said. “They don’t all necessarily need to be real people.” (source)

I hate to be mean because I know the intentions are good. But sitting amongst a room full of mannequins sounds more like that episode of Bates Motel when Norman had dinner with the taxidermied corpse of his mother than like a comforting return to normalcy to me.

This isn’t a one-off, either.

Next on “Dining with Dummies,” Australian restaurant-goers can sit in a cafe with cardboard people, lulled by the buzz of taped conversations on the speakers.

Photo Credit: Insider

At Five Dock Dining, cardboard cutouts will keep you company while you dine.

In Sydney, Australia, the restaurant is adapting to a post-coronavirus normal by adding cardboard cutouts to dining tables. The restaurant also plans to play guest “chatter” on the speakers…

…The limit on guests presented a challenge to Frank Angeletta, the owner of the restaurant. Five Dock Dining has a large dining space, and he was worried the area would feel empty. (source)

I applaud the effort and the creativity, I really do. But is it just me or are these efforts to put fake humans in restaurants kind of creepy?  I would much rather sit in a nearly empty restaurant than be surrounded by fake humans. If you’ll pardon the pop culture reference, anyone who has ever watched the show Supernatural knows what’s likely to happen next.

Then there are the sporting events.

Photo Credit: New York Times

A professional soccer league in South Korea made the befuddling choice to stud the bleachers with blow-up dolls holding up signs to cheer their teams along.

The club FC Seoul apologized on Monday after what it believed were ordinary mannequins — quickly recognized by many fans as sex dolls — were placed in the stands for a match against Gwangju FC.

Some on social media noted the telltale signs, like the business logos for sex toy marketers on the dolls’ clothing, or their strikingly buxom physiques. Of the roughly two dozen dolls in the stands, nearly all were women.

“We had tried to add some fun in the no-spectator match,” FC Seoul said in a statement. “But we have not checked all the details, and that is clearly our fault.” (source)

In Taiwan, a baseball game was played before a full stadium. The thing is, the stadium was full of cardboard cutouts and plastic mannequins holding signs. Oh, and a band of robot drummers.

Photo Credit: New York Times

On a balmy Saturday evening inside one of Taiwan’s largest baseball stadiums, the floodlights flickered to life and the players took their positions.

Cheerleaders began their rah-rah routines. Organ music blared through the speakers.

But as the first batter stepped up to the plate and the pitcher took a deep breath, the only fans inside the 20,000-seat stadium in the northern city of Taoyuan were cardboard cutouts and plastic mannequins.

Some wore hot-pink wigs and surgical masks. Others held signs with this cheery message: “We will always be with you!” A five-member band of robots played drums from the stands — a substitute for the usual cacophony of live music. (source)

I’m just going to present this without further commentary.

Then there are these ways to keep humans apart.

Bizarre social distancing methods don’t stop with the use of fake humans. Read on for the undignified methods other restaurants are keeping humans apart.

Photo Credit: USA Today

A restaurant in Ocean City, Maryland is putting patrons in individual “bumper boat” tables.

“It’s like a bumper boat, but it’s actually a table,” owner Shawn Harmon said of the design, which was developed by Revolution Event Design and Production in Baltimore.

A customer will stand in the center of the circular table surrounded by a rubber barrier that keeps them safely separated from other patrons in accordance with social distancing guidelines. The tables sit on wheels that allow them to stay mobile. (source)

Oh good. You can walk around with your big, awkward bumper boat table. And who doesn’t want to stand the entire time they eat dinner or have a beer?

Heaven help you if there was some kind of attack or emergency and you needed to move quickly. I have a horrible mental image of a bunch of people in innertubes all trying to squeeze out of the exit at once.

If standing in a giant innertube for dinner isn’t your idea of fun, don’t despair. There are numerous other bizarre methods to have a socially distant dinner.

A restaurant in Schwerin, Germany is handing out pool noodle hats for their customers to don.  That sentence just confused my editing software so much it had no suggestions for improving the clarity.

Café Rothe in the city of Schwerin along with German TV channel RTL, celebrated its reopening by handing out social distance-enforcing pool noodle hats to patrons as a gimmick.

“In these difficult times it’s a pleasure to make others smile,” restaurant owner Jacqueline Rothe told Insider. (source)

Photo Credit: Insider

But what if you don’t want to sit with fake humans, stand in an innertube, or wear a funny hat? Does that mean you can no longer go out to dinner?

Don’t despair.

Photo Credit: Reuters

A restaurant in Thailand has a cuddly approach to social distancing. Maison Saigon is using stuffed toys to keep diners company while they eat.

“Earlier we had only one chair for the tables where the customer came alone. But for me, it felt strange, so I thought I’d give them some company,” said Natthwut Rodchanapanthkul, the owner of Maison Saigon, a Vietnamese restaurant in Bangkok.

Sitting opposite one of the panda dolls, diner Sawit Chaiphuek said he was happy to have some company as he stepped out to eat for the first time in months.

“The doll makes me feel less lonely eating by myself,” said Sawit, 25. (source)

Although this seems like a good way to keep the kiddos happy, apparently, some adults also feel better when they have something…anything…at the table with them in a restaurant. And here I’ve just been taking a book with me for times like this.

Is this the “new normal?”

I know that I wrote before that we’d never get “back to normal” but this really isn’t what I meant. Never in the past ten years of creating content have I written an article with so many potential times to use the word “flabbergasted.” We are witnessing the death of human dignity. The end of an Empire. The collective loss of all rational coping mechanisms.

It just can’t be mentally healthy to be surrounded by fake people all the time. My mind is boggled that there are hebetudinous people who prefer sitting with stuffed animals or mannequins to just sitting at a table in a partially empty restaurant. Will we be doing this for six months? A year? Forever?

It was one thing when Tom Hanks’ character on Castaway had a deep friendship with a volleyball named Wilson. He was legitimately isolated. But we are not. We don’t have to have inanimate “friends.” What does this say about people? About our future as a society?

It’s an absolute dumpster fire. People are so worried about being “safe” that they’re embracing the bizarre and extreme, instead of pushing forward and getting on with their lives. While I do take the virus seriously, I’m not fearful. Just imagine the level of fear that an adult must be feeling when dining in public with a stuffed toy makes them feel better.

It’s difficult to fathom such a breathtakingly aberrant world, filled with imaginary friends and actual, physical, personal space bubbles. Imagine if this continues, the damage done to children who grow up knowing nothing else. How will they develop empathy and healthy human relationships? This is an environment that fosters fear and mistrust of others, just like the horrifying back-to-school scenario that had kids marching in 5-feet-apart formation for “recess.”

It’s like some kind of bizarre, humiliating social experiment to see how far people are willing to be pushed when they’re afraid.

This takes the “divide” part of “divide and conquer” to an unimaginable new level.

About Daisy

Daisy Luther writes about current events, preparedness, frugality, voluntaryism, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, The Organic Prepper. She is widely republished across alternative media and she curates all the most important news links on her aggregate site, Daisy is the best-selling author of 4 books and runs a small digital publishing company. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, and Twitter.

Picture of Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived, and 3), an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. She is widely republished across alternative media and  Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

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  • Unbelievable! We went to pick up feed for livestock at a feed store yesterday. The owner said another nearby feed store had a customer call the police on someone not wearing a mask, and the police showed up to investigate. A mask is not required in smaller stores in our state, only in those 50,000 sq. ft. and above, so I’m not sure why the police felt the need to go to this small feed store, unless the governor is going to apply more punitive measures.

      • NS defeated those kind of people, till the All-lies bombed Germany. You are a fool. “Nazis” aren’t the ones Coronahoaxing you.

    • My son went in the Post Office and got blessed out by an older man because he wasn’t wearing a mask. He didn’t say anything back because he was tired from his overnight shift as a police officer! He didn’t feel the need to wear one in the PO to pick up a package because there was giant plastic barriers and few people. Plus he wears masks and gloves during his shift and just wanted to breath!
      On another note, he was required to pull over people out after curfew (South Carolina) and he was relived to see they were essential workers. He believes the lock down stuff walked all over the constitution and he didn’t feel right pulling people over who weren’t doing anything wrong.

    • Sounds like a lady I know who runs a feed store. Her daughter’s a pediatrician just down the road, is all terrified that children are dying in the NorthEast ‘cause she saw it on the “news”, and maybe heard it from other clueless medical people who also watch too much TV “news”. The lady wants people to wear masks, thousands of miles from the NorthEast, so 22 week premature babies in NYC, probably induced by the current stress and worry, can stop dying. What kind of ruthless propagandists do we have that “flood the message” scaring mothers, grandmothers, and the rest with such fabrications?

  • I read the “bumper boat” tables earlier this morning.

    I feel like I woke up to an episode of The Twilight Zone.
    I am expecting Rod Serling to walk around the corner and say something like,
    “The human race achievements like the light bulb, splitting the atom, putting a man on the moon, has been reduced to the absurd by not a invading alien race, but a invisible virus that put the fear in their minds that could only exist in The Twilight Zone.”

  • I don’t think that people are going to put up with this forever. We are not wired to be 6′ apart and little social contact. And it is not like people are dropping like flies. The deaths in my state and around the country are minimal in spite of the draconian mandates.

    The issue with this is that governments are giving fines to these businesses if they don’t which threatens them even opening or shutting down and suspending or revoking their business licenses with fines and/or jail. At least that is how it is in my state. Then you got the government telling people to “snitch” on businesses that are not following the “mandate law”. Or people snitching on those who aren’t wearing a mask and 6′ apart at least in the city because they can also be fined and/or jail. What are we, a police nanny state?

    I fear that the government have their fingers in too much of every little bit of our daily lives. It wasn’t the best before the pandemic and the way things have played out could be worse.

    • I understand fully. I also fully agree…However this is the way it is now, it’s the NEW WORLD ORDER of things so get used to it. I don’t think it will be going away…THE ONE WORLD GOVERNMENT is also in the works, as well as the ONE WORLD RELIGION where everybody has ONE faith…(good luck with that one)… Research them all The NWO, the OWG and the OWR…see what you discover…Our world will NEVER be the same as it was before 2020 and that brings me to wonder just how bad will it be in the future. What will the rest of 2020 be like? Who will be elected POTUS in Nov… Will people vote for Trump again or throw him under the bus? Or will they vote of Biden (the one hidden in his basement chatting by virtual videos? The poor man seems senile to me or delusional…IF you like Obama’s policies then you’ve seen nothing yet. That will be a repeat of Obama on steroids seriously…I am NOT voting so I will NOT be blamed with things get worse and totally OUT of hand…You are so right things could be worse, yep, I agree and I think they will be…not being negative here, just factual…

      • It doesn’t have to stay this way. People are already fighting back. As far as things getting worse, it could go either way. Not a huge fan of Trump, like some of his policies, but would never want a socialist in office. If people wake up and smell the coffee now, it can be different. These governors, mayors took an oath to uphold the constitution and are breaking people’s civil liberties and rights daily and are more concerned about their power than serving the people. We are NOT here to serve them. We voted them in and can vote them out, that is why every vote counts. And yes, you are responsible if you don’t vote. If you don’t vote, then you have nothing to stand on with complaining about policies or people in office because you didn’t participate in voting. I know this is controversial, but without the votes unacceptable people and policies take place. At times they take place anyway, but that is because the one’s in power are overriding the votes of the people and therefore there is tyranny.

        • People who don’t vote are not responsible for the problems caused by politicians who are voted in . And everyone is entitled to their opinions and do have a voice about what is happening around them , they just don’t trust politicians and will not put their names to corrupt people and rightly so.
          Everyone has a right to their observations and opinions.

        • A good way to vote might be to vote with your life. Go and live it and don’t wait for permission from the politicians. Back up people who chose to live without fear. The power is with us, not them, and plenty of them know it though they feel they must maintain the illusion that the power is from them. That means whatever you do they will try to take credit for it as if they permitted you to do it. So be supportive of those who live, without prior permission from officials or governors or petty politicians.

  • Yes, these are extremes but probably are going to be more common. What always surprises me is store employees either not wearing masks or wearing them incorrectly. For instance, at a WM neighborhood store an employee was thoroughly wiping down carts and handing them off to customers – while not wearing a mask and within the 6 foot distancing. Another employee at the same store was guiding customers to checkouts – wearing her mask around her chin so she could be heard. Hubby and I wear masks when going out where we will be in contact with others – the above mentioned store, Dollar Tree and Sam’s all for less than 15 minute quick in and outs. Otherwise it’s WM pickup, library curb side pickup, and mail order from Sam’s, WM and Amazon. Why can’t people just be reasonable? By the way, wouldn’t stuffed animals hold the virus? Are the bumper tables thoroughly wiped down after each use – that means all surfaces? We’re going for personal safety – besides this really hasn’t affected us much as we hardly ever go out anyway.

  • “What does this say about people? About our future as a society?” I think it says people like to add some communal levity to new and unknown situations. There were so many toilet paper memes, all meant to make fun of the sudden interest in hoarding that commodity. Now, a few weeks later, they are almost all gone. The Big Eclipse had the same effect, as did Y2K, and the Mayan Calendar. It’s just social expression and it moves from one shared target to another.

  • Do,do,do,doo , do,do, do,dooo…… imagine if you will…
    Yes , you could not find anything more strange binge watching Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone , then top it off with Orwell’s 1984. This is beyond aberrant!

  • If i walked into a restaurant with mannequins, or some other crap like that, i would definately feel likei just walked into an episode (black & white no less) of the Twilight Zone with Rod Serling in the background giving his monologue.

  • We can’t make any sort of public policy that literally ensures that everyone is 100% safe from every possible danger. Risk has, is, and will always be a part of everything mortal humans do in life. Regardless of what the perpetually risk-averse among us would like to believe, living always comes with risks And as it turns out, thankfully, the risk of dying from coronavirus really isn’t all that high for most people, despite the hysterical media hype surrounding it. The overall impact of this pandemic hasn’t come close to justifying the draconian, suicidal, life and economy-killing measures society has chosen to take to combat it.

    “Until it’s safe’ means ‘never.”
    The pursuit of “safe” over virtually all other considerations is life-suppressing. This is true for your own individual life, and it is true for the life of a society.
    You are not on earth to be safe. You are on earth to lead a full life. The nature of this world is such that if you aim for 100% safety and no pain, you won’t really live. Safe, as in “no risk,” doesn’t exist. Accepting there are degrees of safety and balancing risk with reward are part of leading a rich life.
    The World War II generation has been dubbed “the greatest generation.” Part of what made them great was the last thing they would ever ask was, “Is it safe?” If you want to lead a good and full life, you cannot now keep asking, “Is it safe?”

  • I imagine only the extremes are cherry picked to showcase the insanity in a few restaurants. At least I hope thats the case. Personally, I view it as restaurants treating adult customers like the adults are children. I wouldn’t participate.. not even for the novelty of it.

    Thankfully I am seeing citizens in my area quickly returning to life as it was pre-plandemic with one exception… many still are wearing masks.

    The many deviations in collective behaviors and lifestyles have been very apparent during this debacle that seem to be associated with how subservient/fearful/dependant residents of a particular state, county, city are with government

  • It’s a psyop operation. They want you to actually think to DEEP 6 your fellow human. Slowly brainwashing you when the time comes.

    Patience, my dear…..

  • Several thoughts come to mind. Businesses are protecting themselves against lawsuits. It’s a gimmick to get people to come to their business. The world as we know it is coming to an end. Pick one.

  • Reading this I was laughing most of the time. This has got to be one of the funniest articles you’ve ever published!

    Although funny, yes, it’s just too weird to go to a restaurant and have dinner with a stuffed Panda.

    Until all of this Social Distancing is over with, I will cook at home.

  • Let’s understand that social norms are set by people and society, NOT by top-down edicts from technocrats.

    They can try to tell us what they wish to be the “new normal” in their wannabe technocratic “utopia”, but it is never going to materialize because norms don’t work that way.

    Basically these are malajusted control freaks trying to twist a society that they never fit in with, into something that they want it to be. Never gonna happen.

  • I’m not willingly going to participate in any of this nonsense. Not gonna wear a weird hat or sit at a table inside of an inner tube with stuffed animals or mannequins in order to drink coffee! I’ll continue to minimize whatever shopping trips i need to make and that’s about it. I’m fortunate enough to work outdoors mostly, either by myself or with just a client around. I have plenty to do here at my place to keep me busy otherwise. I’m not enjoying our “new normal”. Have come to despise Zoom and anything held on it. Not planning on “attending” and paying for a concert held on Zoom; seems to me I might as well watch it for free on YouTube! Same goes for Zoom “potlucks” and all the rest. Maybe it works for some people but not for me. The worst(and saddest) had to be the Zoom funeral I “attended” recently.

    I think we need to regain some sense of perspective. Yes, this is a nasty illness. But so was the Hong Kong flu of the late 1960’s and the Asian flu of the 1950’s. For the most part the current virus is most damaging to the elderly or those with other medical issues which is not a major surprise given that this is also the case for regular flus. I’m not at all discounting the impact on those affected by it. But continuing to do what we’re doing is probably not going to eliminate it. If(when) it comes roaring back do we just shut everything down all over again? I don’t know the answer but my sense is that how we’re handling this isn’t working. Who knows, maybe people will just decide that they don’t need to eat in restaurants, go to bars, shop in malls, attend large concerts or go to sports stadiums anymore?

  • The rules have changed, like Selco said. And if you’re bothered by some bad ideas from restaurants, lucky you that you don’t have more major problems to worry about. Like surviving till tomorrow, or deciding whether every unknown person you may encounter is or isn’t a threat. So count your blessings.

    Some day you may miss the time when the worst you had to worry about was if your favorite restaurant would fall into a silly fad.

  • Here’s Satanic use of Numerology right in front of your face.
    Safe distance (6 ft).
    So you stand in line and the marks are 6 feet apart.
    666 6666666666666

    X & O are also 6’s in numerology.

  • Divide is the point of it , all right. We can organize only on the web, where Big Brother can see it. Not at church, restaurants, parks.

    And quit believing that safety or protection has anything to do with it. These measures prevent the normal exercise need by our immune systems, which will weaken and KILL us.

    Power elites/super rich have believed in overpopulation since before the time of Jesus. See the Deagle 2017 population prediction for the real purpose of this NOT safe stuff.

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