U.S. citizens hold disparate views on the safety of returning to work, travel and shopping, based on a survey of 4,500 conducted during April 28 to May 1.   Subways, large events (football, baseball, rodeo) and crowded beaches were least comfortable to respondents.  Grocery stores, office buildings with social distancing and restaurants were most comfortable in the return to the new normal.

While almost half are ready to fly commercially starting between now and September 2020, 34% are not comfortable traveling until at least March of 2021.  Fully 16% say they are not comfortable flying again ever or until 2022.  These figures are for travelling alone.  The numbers drop for flying with family.

Only 32% are comfortable flying between now and September 2020 with family.  Another 48% will not be comfortable traveling with family until October 2020 to December 2021.

Few are comfortable attending events with large crowds, such as rodeo, football or baseball now, only 15%.  Many become comfortable between October 2020 and June 2021 (35%).  A small portion indicate they will never be comfortable at large events (9%), with another 25% not ready until July 2021 or later.

Riding a crowded subway or bus will never be acceptable to 33%.  Only 11% are ready now with another 10% ready to return to crowded subways during July to September 2020.  Hence, 79% are now uncomfortable with riding a crowded subway or bus until at least October 2020.

The highest level of comfort was for grocery stores, retail and offices.  Fully 69% are now ready or will be ready to return to grocery stores by June 2020.  The next most comfortable setting is returning to office buildings with social distancing, with 47% ready either now or by June 2020.  Only 2% say they will never be comfortable returning to office buildings.  Another 15% are reluctant to return to office buildings, even with social distancing, until March 2021 to 2022.


Restaurants with social distancing are comfortable now for 18% and for another 22% by June 2020.  Another 40% will not be ready until July 2020 to February 2021.  About one in five will not be ready until March 2021 or 2022.

Retail shopping effects a surprisingly high level of discomfort post-COVID-19.  While a third are ready to return to retail by June 2020, another 56% will not be ready until July 2020 to December 2021.

Crowded beached generate limited enthusiasm, with only 13% now ready and another 13% ready by June 2020.  The highest segment is those willing to return to crowed beaches during July 2020 to September 2020 (18%).  About one in three (36%) are ready to return to crowded beaches during October 2020 to December 2021.  A surprising 12% believe they will never be comfortable returning to crowded beaches and 8% will not be comfortable until 2022.  Hence, one in five are uncomfortable with crowded beaches until at least 2022.

The variety of comfort with returning to “normal life” is believed based on the limited information available regarding COVID-19, no efficacious treatment and no vaccine.  We hope more will become comfortable with the new normal as better information becomes available.  A treatment for COVID-19 or a vaccine would speed a return to a new normal.

The survey was conducted by O’Connor, a national property tax consulting company.  Those responding skew above normal for social-economic metrics.  Many or most respondents are O’Connor clients who own property.

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