COVID-19 has been devastating to most businesses, particularly those that offer indoor services. While goods can be delivered straight into a customer’s doorsteps when governments around the world imposed shelter-in-place orders, many businesses had no choice but to stop operations for the duration of the pandemic.
As a result, businesses that specialize in sports and entertainment continue to struggle even after many states have pulled back restrictions and reopened the local economies. Bars remain empty, and so do concert venues. Cages for speed pitch games remain unused in sporting facilities. Forget about karaoke bars where there is a greater risk of virus spread.
The pandemic is already changing the habits and routines. More people have already stated that they will continue to shop online even after a vaccine has been approved for use and the pandemic has been officially declared over.
Will sports and entertainment venues be able to recover in the next year?
Outdoor Venues Have an Advantage
Mounting evidence proves that the virus is airborne; people who have been infected eject droplets and aerosols when they sneeze, cough, speak, laugh, and breathe. These droplets and aerosols contain the virus that can enter the human body through the nose and eyes.
More alarming is the distance traveled by droplets and aerosols in enclosed spaces with inadequate ventilation. When the air is stale, fluids travel farther and stay above ground for longer. The recommended six feet safe distance that has to be maintained between people may not be as effective in preventing infection as originally thought.
Outdoors, however, the risk of infection is far lower. Because of the large space and the fresh air blowing, droplets and aerosols are immediately dispersed. With the addition of direct sunlight, which kills the virus almost instantly, the chances of an infected individual spreading the virus become very slim.
Over the past couple of months, there have been events held outdoors. The drive-in movie theaters popular back in the ‘50s made a comeback in 2020. In the UK, a socially-distanced outdoor concert took place, with attendees seated and cordoned off in their own viewing spaces during performances. Earlier in the pandemic, a German cafe asked patrons to wear pool noodles around their heads to enforce social distancing in an outdoor setting.
These services that managed to find a way to continue operations while maintaining the safety of their customers may rebound after the pandemic.
People Will Remain Afraid
The pandemic, and the restrictions created in an effort to contain it, has taken a toll on the mental health of many people. The inability to go out and see loved ones, as well as the loss of regular routines, has caused stress, loneliness, and other negative emotions. COVID-19 is expected to leave lasting emotional and psychological scars that will be experienced by generations for years to come.
So, when indoor venues reopen, people may not show up. Consumers may not feel safe to go to places in fear of the virus. Businesses should find ways to ensure the public that they will not contract the highly-contagious illness if they visit indoor venues. Right now, businesses can increase ventilation and dramatically reduce the seating capacity. However, in many places, these measures are not enough to convince consumers to venture out of their doors.
Vaccine Development Sparks Hope
There are multiple groups working on vaccines and a few of them are already in review by relevant federal agencies. If approved, inoculation will begin immediately, starting with those who are the most vulnerable.
As soon as a vaccine is rolled out, and a huge portion of the population receives immunity., things may go back to normal.
One survey in the UK found that almost all respondents are considering participation in a myriad of social activities next year because of all the positive news coming out about vaccines against COVID-19. About a third of those who said they are willing to go out would return to theaters. Meanwhile, a fifth of the respondents said they will go to live music events.
Things will eventually go back to normal, but experts warn that it will be slow. Aside from the virus, the economic crisis resulting from the pandemic left many people without a job. Finances will also factor into whether consumers will go back out and spend their money on businesses when the pandemic is over.
The pandemic has affected individuals and businesses negatively. No one knows how long these impacts will be felt. Even with a working vaccine against COVID-19, recovery for many businesses may take months if not years.