Governor DeSantis issued a stay-at-home order that began on April 3, leaving students with birthdays in the coming weeks to find a way to celebrate in quarantine. Photo by Lauren Margolis.

A birthday only comes once a year, but what if you have to spend your special day in quarantine? Many UCF students will have to celebrate without friends, dinner reservations, parties or vacations due to threats of the coronavirus pandemic.

With no set date for the statewide stay-at-home order to end, individuals who have birthdays in the next few weeks might be blowing out their candles alone.

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Nicole Planchart, junior marketing major, said she knows what it’s like to have a birthday during the COVID-19 stay-at-home order. She turned 23 on April 10 and said she celebrated at home by drinking wine and watching her favorite series, Grey’s Anatomy.

Although her loved ones weren’t there to celebrate in person, she said they still made her birthday feel special.  

“Most of my friends and family found a way to make my day memorable,” Planchart said. “They organized a group FaceTime call and delivered my favorite wine.” 

Planchart said this year was a lot different than her past birthdays where she usually has dinner with friends, followed by bar hopping or clubbing. She even booked a trip to Miami with her friends for her 23rd birthday, but the quarantine called for a change of plans, she said.

Nicole Planchart (third from left) wears a pink coat as she smiles with her friends on her 22nd birthday in 2019. She said Group FaceTimed her loved ones for her birthday this year instead of seeing them in person. Photo courtesy of Nicole Planchart.

“If you step back and look at the bigger picture, missing a birthday celebration is not that big of a deal,” Planchart said. “I recommend to simply postpone those plans and make them even bigger.” 

Even though her birthday turned out different than she expected, Planchart said it was for the greater good. She said college students with birthdays coming up should stay home like she did because it will keep everyone safe.  

Senior psychology major, Nicole Hodnett is turned 22 years old on Monday and said she also had to change her birthday plans. 

“I was planning on maybe going on a cruise, but due to COVID-19, I never ended up booking one,” Hodnett said. 

The CDC warns about the dangers of traveling on cruises during this time, and on April 9 CDC ordered an extension on the No Sail Order for all cruise ships.  

Hodnett said her new birthday plans this year are to order takeout from a restaurant called Park Pizza & Brewing Co. and watch movies with her friend and boyfriend. 

Nicole Hodnett (second from left) with friends on her 21st birthday. She said last year they went clubbing to celebrate her special day. Photo courtesy of Nicole Hodnett.

Hodnett said she worries what a new normal will look like for the world after the COVID-19 pandemic but takes comfort in knowing quarantine won’t last forever. 

“Know that this is temporary, and there are many other birthdays to come,” Hodnett said. “Additionally, a birthday is just a day and you can always celebrate when this is over.”  

Junior psychology major Sydney Amico, who prefers the singular, gender-neutral pronouns they and them, is turning 24 on May 9 and believes quarantine will more than likely still be in effect next month. Amico said they are one of those people who makes a big deal out of birthdays.  

“I usually take time off from work and have a party with my friends. Sometimes I’ll travel or go to theme parks, and I usually have a special dinner with my family too,” Amico said.  “I’m one of those people who celebrate their whole birthday month, to be honest.”  

Amico said they can make the best out of any situation and would still have a fun birthday regardless of the circumstances.

They said they will probably end up playing games and drinking with family, but Amico is not too worried about spending this birthday alone because they live with their partner. Amico’s hope is to still go on a Key West vacation in May but is waiting until the end of the month to see if they will have to cancel.  

“I’m worried because I’ve seen some airlines and hotel chains refuse refunds,” Amico said. “If that’s the case, I hope I’ll be allowed to at least reschedule for later this year.” 

Amico said they are worried about the economy at this time and feels the government should have announced a state lockdown sooner.  

“We should have been quarantined a long time ago with specific rules in place, in my opinion,” Amico said. 

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a statewide stay at home order that went into effect on April 3.

They said there would have been a better chance of getting to celebrate their birthday with friends if they were quarantined earlier and social distancing was taken more seriously from the beginning. 

Sydney Amico (on right) with a friend in Universal Orlando. Amico celebrated their birthday last year at the Universal parks with friends. This year, Amico is hoping they won’t have to cancel the Key West trip they planned for their birthday in May.  Photo courtesy of Sydney Amico.

Even though having to spend a birthday in quarantine is not something many envisioned for 2020, Amico said students should still try to make the best of it.  

“There’s always something fun to do if you get creative … A lot of us live with family or roommates, and if you don’t there’s Skype and Zoom,” Amico said. “Positive thinking is a very powerful thing and I recommend practicing it.” 

Amico said they think by keeping a positive attitude, students with quarantine birthdays can make theirs a little happier.