Gallery: Signs of hope amid uncertainty

Three weeks ago, Carlmont Shopping Center was a somber place to be. Few cars crowded the usually busy lot, and shoppers conducted their business quickly and anxiously: stocking up on groceries, sending packages, picking up takeout from quiet restaurants. Masked figures avoided each other, making a conscious effort to maintain a six-foot radius around themselves. 

Though it is far from gone, the atmosphere of fear and uncertainty has lightened.

A new shelter-in-place order from April 29 has allowed for the reopening of more essential businesses, including coffee shops and outdoor stores. Now, people are starting to linger outside longer, chatting from a safe distance, and visiting recently reopened retail stores such as Starbucks.

Though businesses are reopening, they are only allowed to operate under strict guidelines. Ladera Garden and Gifts, a garden supply store in the shopping center, has been allowed to admit customers under the new order. However, their indoor gift shop remains closed, and the store is limiting the number of people allowed inside at a time. Lines form outside of its back gate on weekends as customers wait six feet apart to buy plants. 

San Carlos is also beginning to implement the new, relaxed guidelines. Stores like Starbucks, Boba Guys, and Peet’s Coffee & Tea are reopening on Laurel Street, though they are mainly operating via mobile orders. 

An unexpected sense of normalcy seems to be replacing the fearful atmosphere. People and businesses are adapting to their new normal, adhering to health orders while cautiously hoping that things might be starting to look up. Many face coverings that people wear outside are homemade, brightly colored, and cheerfully defiant in a world that is being rocked by tragedy. 

As businesses begin to reopen and local shelter-in-place orders start to relax, there is no certainty of a quick return to “normal.” A vaccine for the virus is still in its early stages, and testing is below the recommended level. However, signs of hope remain for the community.