How Is Coronavirus Affecting Disabled Parking Permit Holders?
Coronavirus (COVID-19) has very quickly become our whole world – or at least, it feels that way lately. People all over the globe are focused on how to avoid both catching the virus and spreading it to others. While many of us are stuck indoors in self-isolation, there are some reasons that those with disabled parking permits might need to venture out. So, how is coronavirus affecting disabled parking permit holders? If you’re a permit owner, you may be wondering how this pandemic will impact your life. Read on for more information regarding COVID-19 and disabled parking permit holders.
What is coronavirus (COVID-19)?
Although news about coronavirus is everywhere, you might not know the basics behind it. Coronavirus is a term used to describe a group of respiratory illnesses, of which COVID-19 is the newest strain. The strain is believed to have originated in Wuhan, China, in 2019, but has since spread worldwide. It recently reached pandemic status, indicating the large number of geographic regions it’s affecting, the rising number of cases, and its impact on society and the economy.
COVID-19 is an upper-respiratory-tract illness that is spread primarily through person-to-person contact. When an infected person coughs or sneezes, respiratory droplets can land in the mouth, nose, or eyes of another person or be inhaled into their lungs. Symptoms include a cough, shortness of breath, and a fever. The virus can be fatal, with death resulting in about 3% of cases. At this time, the U.S. has encouraged social distancing, which means that you should try to stay at least six feet away from anyone outside your immediate family, and some states, such as New York and California, have instituted “shelter in place” regulations. This means that you’re only permitted to leave your home for essential errands (grocery shopping, doctor visits, etc.). The government is hoping these restrictions will help to slow down the rate at which COVID-19 is spreading across the country.
What does HCOV-19 mean for disabled parking permit holders?
If you have a handicap placard, it’s very likely that you have some type of underlying (often chronic) condition that leaves you with a weakened immune system. Anyone with a pre-existing medical condition is considered at a much higher risk of contracting COVID-19; individuals with respiratory illnesses are even more vulnerable.
If you fall into this group of people, it’s crucial for you to take even more extreme precautions to avoid getting sick. Most experts recommend that you take part in self-isolation, which means you avoid leaving your home for any reason if possible. If you live alone, you might experience increased feelings of loneliness, so it’s critical that you reach out for support from friends and family (or mental health professionals) by phone or online.
If you rely on a caregiver or extra assistance at home, you might also be significantly impacted by the virus. Some caregivers are staying home, too, which means you could be without the help that you depend on. Try asking friends or neighbors to complete errands or tasks for you so you don’t need to leave your house. Delivery services are also a great option to get the goods you need while staying at home.
What will happen to parking availability during the pandemic?
COV-19 and disabled parking permits might also be impacted by the availability of parking – especially in high-population parking areas. The main concern is finding parking spaces at doctor’s offices and hospitals, which are already at maximum capacity during the pandemic.
Your best bet is to try and set up telehealth appointments with your health care providers if possible. Conducting appointments over the phone or through video chat can make it easier so you don’t have to leave home and worry about exposure or about finding parking. However, if an in-person visit is necessary, allow yourself plenty of time to find parking in case it’s limited where you’re going.
In terms of running errands, some stores are offering special hours for older folks and people who are immunocompromised. If you decide to venture out during these times, be prepared for there to be less handicap parking spaces available.
Have any rules changed changed regarding disabled parking permits?
At this time, there have not been any specific parking regulations that have changed because of COVID-19. So if you’re wondering, “Can I still use my disabled parking permit during the coronavirus pandemic?” the answer is yes. However, it’s important to note that you should follow the same general guidelines as before. This means that you still shouldn’t lend your placard out to any friends or family, and you should always hang your placard from your rearview mirror when you’re parked.
As far as other parking regulations go, there has been some noted leniency during this chaotic time. Some cities (notably Los Angeles) have announced that they won’t ticket vehicles for breaking some parking restrictions (such as going over posted time limits, parking during street-sweeping hours, etc.). Local governments are being more flexible since they recognize that these are special circumstances. If you’re concerned about getting a ticket, check with your local law enforcement to make sure you’re good to go before parking in certain areas that might earn you a parking violation.
Could it get tougher to get a parking permit or a handicap parking space in the future?
There is so much uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus pandemic. Not much is known about the long-term effects of COVID-19; it’s possible that it could leave infected people with permanently decreased respiratory function. This would mean that even more people would depend on handicap parking permits to get around. This, in turn, could result in less available designated handicap parking spaces. If this happens, hopefully local governments will establish a greater number of handicap spots for disabled individuals to take advantage of.
It’s too early to tell how far-reaching the effects of the virus will be for disabled parking permit holders. At this time, it’s best if you try to stay at home as much as possible to avoid becoming ill. Ask for help from friends and family in getting the goods and services you need to stay healthy and happy. And don’t be afraid to use your handicap placard when you do go out; it’s still there to give you better access to the parking spaces you need.