I am not someone who is easily panicked and the Coronavirus is not something that I have let affect the way my family and I live our lives. However, our local health centre in Haslemere is the one that’s been on all the news bulletins this weekend. I was there just last week with my son. Unless you have been shying away from listening to the news, you will have heard Haslemere is home to the first case of locally caught COVID 19.
Understandably given the widespread reporting, there’s a lot of anxiety around the town, which is counteracted with reassuring words from medical professionals who (we hope) are better placed to advise us on what is going on. Whilst this virus is not something to ignore, nor is it something to have sleepless nights over - at least on a personal level.
From a business perspective however, it is something we need to think seriously about and perhaps something we should actually start to worry a little about. We only have to see the effect to international stock markets to see that big business and economists are taking it seriously.
Hotels will no doubt have already felt the impact of reduced international visitors as well as domestic travellers. I am sure that food service outlets are beginning to feel the effects, as well as pubs and bars. Leading hotel exhibitions, IHIF and ITB Berlin are both cancelled as is HITEC in Mallorca - and rightly so. Non-essential gatherings on this scale should be cancelled when we’re at a critical point of the virus’ containment. The World Health Organisation reports that we haven’t passed the point of no return just yet – so, whilst it’s still possible, I’m happy to see measures being taken to try to protect public health. As it stands our risk of dying is minimal and there are many other diseases we should be more afraid of. Although, sadly, I feel sure it will get worse. The difficulties of determining the actual death rates have been outlined in the news, so we’re still very much in the dark. However, I suspect that Coronavirus will touch all of our lives more closely than we are comfortable with in the weeks and months ahead.