The COVID-19 pandemic has changed everything from daily life to major holidays. And this Valentine’s Day, while love is in the air, it’s COVID too.
With lots of new constraints, students find new ways to meet people and build relationships, and companies find new ways to engage them. Some couples have actually been able to find each other due to changes caused by COVID.
Emily Crawford, a sophomore in politics and philosophy, said she worked in a tanning salon before it closed due to COVID. So she had to get a job at Lowe where she mixed paint with a colleague who eventually became her boyfriend.
“We actually started dating during COVID,” Crawford said. “I’m not sure how this would have affected COVID, but it was definitely interesting. We didn’t have the typical first dates other couples had, so we just hang out. “
Crawford said that she and her boyfriend can spend quality time together on the days they work, so Valentine’s Day will be like any other day for them.
“We party a little early because of work, but this year we’re probably going to take something out, watch a movie and, to be honest, play Minecraft together,” said Crawford.
As students get used to a COVID Valentine’s Day, so are companies. Jason Gidas, the manager of Gidas Flowers on Forbes Avenue, said Valentine’s Day may be the most important holiday of the year for the company, but business had to adjust this year.
According to Gidas, walk-in deliveries are difficult when it comes to limiting the number of people in the store. Hence, they encourage pre-orders to limit the number of people in the store.
“We deliver contactless,” said Gidas. “Our drivers are instructed to leave it on the porch and tell them they have a package that they can pick up right outside their homes or give them directly to them.”
To prepare for Valentine’s Day, Gidas said he and his staff will start a month or two before February so they can stock up on bins, baskets and other plants that the store will sell throughout the month.
Gidas isn’t the only company that expects Valentine’s Day to attract more customers. The milkshake factory is also preparing for higher sales this weekend. Dana Edwards Manatos, the company’s CEO, said Valentine’s Day is a very important day for business.
“We are very well known in the community,” said Manatos. “Our most important product is our chocolate-iced strawberries. We have focused this year on making sure we adhere to our COVID procedures to keep everyone safe and still provide a quality product in the amount we need for our customers. “
Manatos said the milkshake factory has implemented an online ordering system, a pre-order program for strawberries for Valentine’s Day, and will donate a portion of its profits to Magee Women’s Hospital on Valentine’s Day.
“Partnering with the local communities we serve is important to our team and our mission to make life sweeter,” said Manatos. “We have a store in Oakland, just down the street from Magee. When your team came into the store, the relationship was organic.”
Jasmine Al-Rasheed, a double major in sociology and global health, hopes to spend quality time with her boyfriend at Yukiyama, a heart-shaped Japanese restaurant in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood.
“Hopefully I’ll be able to meet mine [significant other] personally, “said Al-Rasheed,” but I’m going to have an event for a club called Galentine’s Day where we’ll play jackboxing. It’s a day for all girls who are single or in a situation. “
Some students have decided to use the vacation to hang out with friends. Carolyn Cooley, a sophomore rehabilitation science student, said she had decided to join the Black cat market in Pittsburgh’s Bloomfield neighborhood, where customers can drink lattes downstairs and play with kittens in an upstairs play area.
“COVID has made it more difficult because we can no longer go to class in person, so it’s hard to meet new people at school,” Cooley said. “For Valentine’s Day, some friends and I are going to be petting cats instead of hanging out with boys.”