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As COVID-19 Restrictions Lessen, Returning To Normal Life May Take Some Time

People gathering around couple in face mask
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As Milwaukee continues to ease COVID-19 safety guidelines, social events will continue to return but which events to return to is going to look different for every person.

As more people continue to get the COVID-19 vaccine and fewer people test positive for the virus, city of Milwaukee leaders are planning to ease COVID-19 restrictions. Starting June 15, limits on gathering size and occupancy will be lifted for business and events — with safety plans for large gatherings no longer be required.

At a press conference on Thursday, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said the loosening of restrictions has been a long time coming.

"After enduring a year of personal and economic sacrifice, this is a reason to celebrate," said Barrett. “We have the opportunity to return to a version of normal — not normal, but a version of normal.”

Christine Whelan, a clinical professor in the School of Human Ecology at UW-Madison, said that returning to everyday life is going to look different for each person.

“If you're an introvert, perhaps the last 15 months or so has actually been a source of relief to you because you haven't had to do a lot of the things that stress you out or that actually deplete your energy,” she said. “If that is you, then now's a really good time to pick and choose what kind of in-person social events you're going to want to add back into your life.”

While returning to everyday life may be more difficult for people who are introverts, it may also be challenging for those who identify as extroverts.

“I can tell you that it's pretty exhausting the first time you try to get out there and resocialize,” Whelan said. “If you are one of those people, know that you are going to be a little bit more tired than usual after putting on that happy face and getting out there in the social world but, if you're an extrovert, it's going to be worth it. It's going to be energizing to you in the long run.”

Whether or not people are excited to return to normal life or if they’re more hesitant, Whelan said the best thing people can do for themselves is to think about what they value and how they want their lives to look like going forward.

“Do I want to have my life be busier outside my home? What are the things that I like and don't like about what I was doing for the last year and what do I want to change?” she said. “It’s a kind of know thyself process to begin with and then the more you're clear with yourself, the more you can be clear with other people.”

Whelan said navigating life after the pandemic is going to take some time, it’s important for people to know that they are not alone and that everyone will be going through their own transition.

“I would suggest if you feel safe doing it, really try to get out there and test out what feels right to you in this new reality,” she said. “It doesn't have to be the same as it was before, but you also don't want, long-term, fear to prevent you from having the social interactions that are so much a part of being human.”

On Thursday afternoon, the CDC announced it was safe for people who have been fully vaccinated to go without a mask indoors. The city of Milwaukee is still discussing whether it will follow the recommendation by June 15.

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