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NEW WORLD, NEW RULES

Signs of these coronavirus times, real and imagined

Covid-19 pandemic before-and-after signs imagined.
Before and after Covid-19.
  • Steve Mollman
By Steve Mollman

Weekend editor

Published Last updated

If you had been living in a cave since late last year and were now suddenly rejoining society, much about this coronavirus-tinged world would puzzle you, including the closed bars, sparsely stocked stores, and deserted landmarks. Adding to your confusion would be the occasional cryptic sign telling you, for some unknown reason, to STAY HOME and observe something called “social distancing.” What’s more, the signs would assume you already know why you should do these things. Some might mention “Covid-19,” which would leave you no less puzzled.

A look at actual signs from around the world hints at what you’d encounter. And some playfully reimagined ones suggest how much our world has changed.

You would be baffled by signs like this: a store announcing, seemingly apropos of nothing, that it is not a CDC testing center. Who even asked?

And why in the world would a fast-food restaurant try to entice customers with medical masks? Who wants those?

What could be the harm in visiting a playground? Plenty, it would appear.

Most of us, of course, have not been cut off from the news since late last year (though many of us are going stir-crazy at home). Some designers have been having fun rethinking travel posters and signage, among them Jennifer Baer.

Dylan Coonrad, creative director of CannonDesign, has been reimagining signage in his home of New York City, the US epicenter of the pandemic, as the signs below (and the one up top) show. To his eye, the crosswalk sign now looks off, with the figures walking much too close to one another.

Social distancing, even at crosswalks.

And the bicycle path sign makes him think more of food being delivered to customers in self-isolation mode.

Meal delivery this way.

A fire extinguisher sign, meanwhile, brings to mind a hand-sanitizer bottle, a key piece of equipment in our current emergency.

Don’t even think about it.

And lest you think no one could possibly be unaware of the Covid-19 pandemic at this point, consider submarine crews. Some of them, assigned to top-secret missions in the ocean depths, are shielded from news that might hurt morale. They will emerge to a strange new world.

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