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24
April
2020

The Corona Effect

I’ve been trying to think about how this lockdown is going to be lifted and how it will affect gyms, when they are able to reopen?  

I think it’s fair to say it’ll be a long time before we get back to “normal”.  However people are great at adapting, coping and overcoming things.  After everyone’s hard work to obey the lockdown rules, it looks like the government will be able to start reducing the restrictions even slightly on the 5th of May.  Even a small lift to the restrictions will feel like such a relief.  Eventually I would assume certain businesses will reopen and people will gradually be able to gather in larger and larger groups as time goes by.  Starting with family, then friends, then work colleagues.  People will be cautious returning to public spaces and for a long time afterwards.  IMO we’re still only in the beginning phase and a 2nd wave is very possible, we can’t get complacent.

Like a lot of governments, ours will closely watch other countries that have started relaxing restrictions recently and see what their infection rates are like.  Although it will take 2-3 weeks for any potential resurgence to show up – hopefully this gives Ireland an advantage as we are behind other countries in the outbreak and can learn from their good actions and/or mistakes.

I think when groups of 20 or more people are permitted together, my gym will be able to reopen.  However we’ll have greatly reduced classes, numbers of people in our classes and strict social distancing.  I think for larger gyms with bigger floor space (and rents) and much higher operating costs, it could be more difficult to reopen as early?  Smaller gyms are at a slight advantage, as we potentially have less running costs, although we’ve also then less space to use for social distancing.  Changing rooms and shower facilities will be greatly curtailed and reduced to prevent people spending too long in them.   Gloves, sanitation stations and even masks will become the norm everywhere.

Finding the balance of being able to safely social distance ones customers and being able to have enough customers to pay the bills, will be very difficult and lots of businesses won’t be able to do this and therefore close.  I survived and even expanded in the last recession, so am hopeful I can keep things going, when we reopen.  But I’m under no illusion that the business has changed and significantly contracted, possibly forever. 

I think for a very long time, office workers will continue to work from home a lot and will rotate between the office and home.  So instead of working in the office 5 days a week as before, after lockdown people will work just 2 days a week to enable social distancing. This will effect our members and attendance greatly.  Weekend exercise will become vital, we may need to open Sundays.

It will be frustrating for everyone that things won’t be the same as they were.  The longer social distancing goes on, the longer people are on reduced hours, reduced salaries, dipping into savings or getting into debt.  With social distancing and 14 day isolation, foreign travel probably won’t be a possibility for a year.

We all know about “flatterning the curve” and how it’s about not overloading the health care system. However without a vaccine being developed, tested, mass produced, mass uptake and mass distribution – the likes of which the world has never seen.  Flattening the curve, still means every country will probably get high numbers of cases.  Personally I think Ireland is likely to get these high number of cases but we can hopefully continue to minimise the deaths.

The blame game has already started, despite this still being the beginning.  We’ve a long way to go in this, but I think when history looks back on this time.  It’ll come down to the countries that reacted quickly, tested, contact traced and lifted restrictions gradually and cautiously.  Compared to those countries that didn’t react quickly, squabbled internally, used it as a political pawn and lifted restrictions too early.

Handshakes, hugs and even high 5’s will disappear for a long time, maybe bowing or elbow tapping will become all the rage?  We’ve all hopefully learned to appreciate the little things so much more now.  After all we can still purchase most physical things we need in our daily lives, online.  Its the social, emotional and personal things we’re all missing the most.  The barbers, a meal out, a pint, a long cycle, a scenic hike, hugging a relative, a conversation in a room full of people, reading body language, meeting colleagues, getting endorphins from exercising – to name just a few.  We took all these freedoms for granted.  There’s been some great heart-warming examples of people and communities coming together and helping each other.  You’ll have probably done some very generous and helpful things yourself or had people do them for you.  It’s comforting given all the negativity across social media and in the media, in this very strange and challenging times.  

 

author: Andy Kenny