Covid 19 and Our Economy -
6 Months Later!
It’s been about six months now since the onset of COVID-19 in our world which meant a virtual shut down of much of the economy.
So what have we learned in the last six months?
I tend to ask a lot of questions to business people that you meet and there are always a wide variety of answers. Generally though COVID 19 has had far reaching implications for most people and business.
Air Canada is back in operation with jet service flying people to Toronto with it looks like 4 flights a day.That is more than they had pre COVID 19. On the other hand Porter Airlines has extended their complete shut down to November 12. Westjet seems to have 1 flight a day to Toronto. Overall the Thunder Bay airport traffic was tremendously
down by 95% earlier on which is quite an economic barometer. This is
coming back now but a return to pre COVID l9 levels could take years.
Hotel occupancy is down and was below 10% at one time with some rebound taking place as well.
Restaurants have indoor seating restrictions which will be very difficult if in place for a long time.
Also the question is will people want to travel again, go out and eat, attend large scale events?
My barber told me his business was booked solid for 5 weeks after reopening was allowed, but now has dropped about 25% from normal levels. Perhaps people aren’t that comfortable in the barbershop.
Retail seems to be coming back but it seems less busy to me than pre >COVID 19, even though people do have disposable income. In fact some recent news reports have stated lost wages of about $19 billion have been replaced by over $50 billion of government funds provided to >people during the same period.
Gyms have reopened with very strict protocols in place. At my large gym ( 35,000 square feet in size ) you have to pre book a 1 hour time slot with a maximum of 25 people allowed in, wear a mask everywhere other than doing cardio, wash the machines before and after use etc.
Magnus theatre is doing outside performances. The Auditorium has not >opened.
Local dealerships selling cars, trucks, ATV’s etc are having difficulty getting the inventory they would normally have.This will mean a drop in >sales overall.
I was able to ask local MP>Marcus Powlowski, Thunder Bay Rainy River and previously an emergency room doctor what he think we can expect in the next 3 months?
“ I think in the next month we will continue to have a surge of cases. The schools are reopening and historically have been the incubator for >respiratory infections. Having been a doctor working in the field for 35 years I am well aware of this. The average kid has something like 10 respiratory infections a year. There will be greater spread.”“ Hopefully the fact that we are wearing masks and taking the other social distancing steps that those numbers will be manageable, but timewill tell. I don’t think we are going to have a large second wave with COVID. It doesn’t look like the COVID virus is mutating wildly so I don’t see it being a second wave to worry about for people.We are undergoing a little wave now that hopefully will be limited. We may have to dial it back a bit by limiting the number of people in get togethers to help with lowering the new case numbers.”
It is sad so many deaths from COVID 19 have occurred across the world including Canada and our neighbour to the south.We have been pretty lucky so far in the Thunder Bay area with our isolation from large >urban areas. In some ways it is good to be here especially during this time.
I continue to be quite impressed with the job done by our governments. Prime Minister Trudeau and his government have done virtually everything they could to try and soften the blow for Canadians. To have over 8 million people at one time receiving the CERB benefit has to have been a big help to many families. The wage subsidy benefit of 75% of wages has helped businesses move forward as best as possible. It has been extended. The loan program of $40,000 available to some small
businesses is a good program and has been extended.There are many other financial programs which have helped many.
It is nice to see many press events with Canada and Ontario. Premier Doug Ford has proven to be a strong performer during Covid 19 and is very genuine in his goal of helping Ontarians. The Thunder Bay >municipal government have made many good decisions to respond to Covid 19. Our government leaders have worked well together!
We are lucky to have the Port of Thunder Bay which continue to experience excellent results during this time. Their services are in >high demand.
So what’s next? What can we expect?It’s sort of hard to tell I think. How will the consumer react after >all of this isolation protocol? Will they feel comfortable going to a restaurant, concert or movie again? Will you be able to socially distance 6 feet for the future? How will that affect the cost of doing >business? Can a restaurant make it with 30% of their occupancy? If weo to a music show at the Auditorium for example can they get artists
paid their normal fee with 30% of the seats sold? If you are flying to Toronto will you want to be on a packed flight. Could the airline make it on low occupancy and how will that affect ticket pricing?It is definitely somewhat unknown and will require new ways of doing things specific to your business.
The best answer might be a vaccine for everyone which would allow for somewhat normalcy but even then the average person may not want to return to the old ways.
I guess all of us will be watching as we continue on in this COVID 19 environment