My husband took me out to dinner. We haven’t had a “date night” out since the beginning of the pandemic and with the abnormally beautiful weather in Chicago, it was a gorgeous night to sit at a sidewalk table in front of a restaurant and have a nice dinner together.

The approach to social distancing at restaurants here in Chicago involves quite a bit of technology and a couple of assumptions. Some restaurants are checking temperatures at the door. At the moment, no restaurants are allowed to have indoor dining; only open air dining is allowed as of last weekend. To avoid spreading COVID-19, restaurants have opted to skip hard copy menus and instead have posted QR codes at tables. Patrons scan the QR code with their smartphone and are then presented with the menu. Wait staff are now carrying handheld electronic devices to manage the order tableside. Everyone is wearing a mask. Sanitation is happening everywhere.

The handheld devices I’ve seen are branded “Toast”. An Android device, the mini tablets allows servers to have their own device and not rely on a shared touchscreen at a central station. No paperwork is shared between the servers and the kitchen. We did get a printed receipt, which had another QR code, which we could then use to pay directly on our smartphone.

Our current state of technology has allowed us to manage the pandemic fairly well from an economic point of view. Can you imagine if this pandemic had come along in the late 1990s and we were trying to do this with Windows 98 and dial modems? The country would have come to a grinding halt.

Like the Y2K scare and the advancement of technology at that time, I think one good thing the pandemic has brought has been a shove in a positive direction in regards to technology. The work place will never be the same. School kids will never have a snow day again, they can just switch to remote learning.

And we’ll be able to read our menus right on our smart devices.