Social distance dictated by COVID-19 health emergency affects access to public space and with it creating a range of impacts on different levels. While global lockdown is destabilizing economy and challenging country leaders, at the human level the pandemic is generating isolation and loneliness, with a significant raise of helplessness and fear. Everyone is asked to stay home and rearrange daily routines and work activities in indoor domestic spaces, looking at the world from behind a window.
People are dying alone, numbers are increasingly high. Outdoor physical activities are no longer allowed. Many governments seem to lack proper strategies to manage the risk of massive contagion. In the Global South the poor living in informal settlements have scarce access to water, washing hands could be dangerously impossible.
What is the future of public space? How can we face this unprecedented emergency and get prepared to its consequences, in specific regard to health disparity? Public space restrictions will stay in place after recovering from the pandemic?
Is there something we can do now all together?
We, public space scholars and activists, believe that we can build social and health resilience by establishing an open environment for discussion and learning, while taking advantage of technology and virtual platforms that many can currently access for free. As the pandemic moves across different continents and urban conditions, we can share experiences from places where the virus had hit earlier or where recovery will start first.