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Need to Find a Pandemic Necessity? There’s Now a Store for That

LONE TREE, Colo. — Darcy Velasquez and her mother, Roberta Truax, were walking recently in the Park Meadows mall about 15 miles south of downtown Denver, looking for Christmas gifts for Ms. Velasquez’s two children, when they spotted a store with a display of rhinestone-studded masks.

And while it has long been true that sparkles can go a long way with a 9-year-old girl, this store was something new. It is called Covid-19 Essentials, and it may well be the country’s first retail chain dedicated solely to products necessitated by an infectious disease.

With many U.S. stores closing during the coronavirus pandemic, especially inside malls, the chain has seized on the empty space, as well as the world’s growing acceptance that wearing masks is a reality that may last well into 2021, if not longer. Masks have evolved from a utilitarian, anything-you-can-find-that-works product into another way to express one’s personality,

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How do you find a clean restroom in Bay Area during the pandemic? It’s not easy

During a recent stroll through Hayes Valley, things almost felt normal, with people sunning at Patricia’s Green, dawdling in retail stores and zipping in to get takeout from restaurants.

But no one seemed to know where to go to the bathroom.

On the short Hayes Street block between Octavia and Laguna streets, four stores, peppered with requests, finally opted for signs saying that restrooms are not available.

La Boulangerie de San Francisco has posted a sign that reads: “Sorry, no bathrooms allowed.” A similar sign hangs across the street, at Patxi’s Pizza. Server Julius Allen estimated that 20 people still ask about the restroom during each of his shifts. “People always asked before COVID times, but now, it’s constant,” Allen said.

It’s a similar story at Peak Design, a travel bags and camera gear store: The restroom is currently unavailable, even to customers. When asked where customers could find relief

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