Love in the time of Covid-19

February 13, 2020 11:29
A couple wearing protective masks hug at a railway station in Shanghai on Monday. Photo: AFP

This year's Valentine's Day will probably be the least romantic of all.

Lovers, no matter how deep their feelings for each other, would not dare to go out on a date. No steak dinner in a fancy restaurant, perhaps no flowers even.

With the deadly coronavirus dominating global headlines for more than three weeks now, all that gushy display of affection would have to wait for another day.

Kissing is a big no-no. Even a hug may raise concerns about contagion in these days of living dangerously.

With all the big events from the Mobile World Congress to Hong Kong Sevens being canceled, most couples have decided to just stay home.

That should explain why roses, the favorite gift of Romeos to their Juliets, are heavily discounted by most florists this year. A local paper reported that a bunch of American roses could be bought for just HK$680, a 60 percent drop from HK$1,680 last year.

Besides, flowers have lost much of their value because most people are working from home. So what's the use of receiving roses at home where there are no officemates around to view them with envious eyes?

Dining out has also been scratched from most lovers' list of activities on this Day of Hearts. As a result, top steakhouses and grand buffet joints lament that only about 20 percent of their seats have been booked so far for Friday, a far cry from the situation in previous years when they were fully booked weeks in advance.

Simon Wong Ka-wo, president of the Hong Kong Federation of Restaurants and Related Trades, said this will be the worst Valentine's Day for members of his group with sales expected to be halved.

"The best dinner for couples will be home delivery," he said.

For those who are still on the prowl, how about speed dating? Are you kidding?

Everyone is trying to avoid everyone these days. When I had lunch with a friend earlier this week, the greeting was: "Where have you been in the past 14 days?"

Besides, there's really no point in dating with both of you hiding your faces behind masks. It gives a whole new meaning to "blind dating".

And so the best way to express your undying love for someone on this special day – and nothing would be more sincere, profoundly tender and passionate than this – is to send him or her an ample supply of masks, wet tissues and hand sanitizers.

The problem, however, is where to find those items.

Well, you could just call or send a romantic text message, and add a funny GIF.

Have a happy – and healthy – Valentine’s Day!

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CG

EJ Insight writer