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18 Pre–Social Distancing Photos That Feel Like Ages Ago

These photos, from just a few months ago, of events and experiences we took for granted now seem like a relic from a completely different time.

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Remember when we used to… [insert activity here]?

All of these photos of our daily lives before social distancing come from between November 2019, before the world had even heard of COVID-19, and late February, a few short weeks before a growing number of cases in the United States turned our normal lives upside down. On the one hand, sure, these photos can come across as a little depressing, but on the other hand, they remind us what we have to look forward to when this is behind us! For more of a laugh, here are some quotes about the coronavirus quarantine that are actually pretty funny.

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A bite to eat

Customers scope out the menu at a crowded Chick-fil-A at Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport on February 25. In addition to the potentially jarring sight of a bustling fast-food spot, this photo also shows people on their way to catch a plane, something you likely haven’t done in a while.

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Debate and a drink

On February 25, four days before South Carolina’s presidential primary, residents of the state hang out in a Charleston bar watching the Democratic debate. COVID-19 has disrupted not just bar outings but also the electoral process, with some states postponing its elections and others requiring residents to vote even in the midst of this pandemic.

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Presidential hopeful

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden poses with a crowd of supporters after speaking at South Carolina’s Wofford College. This was on February 28, the eve of South Carolina’s presidential primary, which Biden overwhelmingly won. Here’s how much the coronavirus is costing the world so far.

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City-wide celebration

A massive crowd that might seem either wonderfully raucous or cringe-inducing at the moment—you decide—greets the victory parade in Kansas City after their team, the Chiefs, reigns victorious in Super Bowl LIV. The Super Bowl took place on February 2, and the parade was three days later. For some more current photos, here are some shots that will define the era of social distancing.

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Lovely lookout

On November 11, tourists pack a lookout spot on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon to watch a stunning sunset over the natural wonder. On April 1, the park shut down indefinitely to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Some outdoor areas in national parks have remained open for wanderers; others are completely closed.

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MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images/Getty Images

Day at the happiest place on earth

Shortly after the start of the new year, on January 7, families mill around Pixar Pier, located in Disney’s California Adventure Park in Anaheim. Disneyland, another familiar national landmark, was forced to close due to COVID-19, too, shutting its gates on March 12. Florida’s Disney World soon followed.

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Cheerful handshake

On February 24, Ireland’s Taoiseach (the head of government) visits a flood-stricken area in the county of Westmeath. He shakes hands with a civilian helping out, stretching across a piece of machinery to reach his hand. At the current moment, the idea of putting this extra effort into getting a handshake seems borderline appalling, as we’re not even supposed to be getting within six feet of one another! Here’s why shaking hands is one of the common habits that could change forever after this pandemic.

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Working out

On November 28, Thanksgiving Day, workout devotees participate in a cardio-boxing class at a Boston Trillfit studio. Now, people all over the world are making major routine tweaks to work out at home, since gyms have been closed as nonessential businesses. When it comes to personal space right now, how close is too close?

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Iconic skating spot

On December 23, months before New York City became the epicenter of the worldwide pandemic, skaters glide across the famous ice rink in Rockefeller Center.

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Ski school

In Willingen, Germany, ski school instructors lead a group of children trying out a new winter sport, on February 27. Now, not only have ski resorts closed, many schools throughout the United States (and the world) have closed, bringing many winter sports to a halt.

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Sundance crowd

Remember when this many people could safely be in a room together?! On January 24, partygoers at the Sundance Film Festival eat and drink to their hearts’ content during the festival’s “ChefDance” culinary celebration in Park City, Utah.

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Sports spectators

Sports enthusiasts, including rapper Swae Lee, cheer on the players during a college basketball game in Washington, D.C. The George Washington Colonials and the Richmond Spiders faced off in this February 26 game. The NBA has suspended its season and March Madness was canceled for 2020, meaning watching a sporting event with a packed arena of fans is now a distant memory for many.

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Adoring fans

Harry Styles performs for a packed crowd of New Yorkers for The Today Show at Rockefeller Center on February 26.

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Packed beach

On December 21, scores of Australians relax on Sydney’s Bondi Beach on a record-breaking hot day. Exactly three months later, on March 21, the state police minister was forced to close the famous beach altogether as people continued to pack it in defiance of social distancing guidelines.

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Holiday shopping

The New York City streets are full of people—as it so often was before social distancing—as people rush to finish holiday shopping on December 23. One shopper carries a delightfully festive Santa Claus bag while admiring the Tiffany & Co. window display, a Christmas in New York like any other. Holiday shopping seems like a distant memory as most non-essential shopping has transitioned to online.

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Happily married

A sizable wedding party poses for a photo in Boston’s Copley Square on New Year’s Eve of 2019. Now, that couple is surely feeling incredibly lucky to have held their wedding when they did, as many couples have had to make the devastating decision to postpone intricately planned wedding ceremonies during the pandemic.

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Hair appointment

A woman has her hair styled at New York City’s TRESemmé Salon during February’s New York Fashion Week. Haircuts and hair coloring have also become at-home, do-it-yourself activities for many during this quarantine—and many people in the beauty industry are having a difficult time as their workplaces are closing.

Next, take a look at our Coronavirus Guide to discover more ways to stay sane, keep your family safe, and make the most of together time.

Meghan Jones
Meghan Jones is a word nerd who has been writing for RD.com since 2017. You can find her byline on pieces about grammar, fun facts, the meanings of various head-scratching words and phrases, and more. Meghan graduated from Marist College with a Bachelor of Arts in English in 2017; her creative nonfiction piece “Anticipation” was published in the Spring 2017 issue of Angles literary magazine.