The great location-based entertainment decimation event
Back in March, when the shelter-in-place and shutdown orders were first issued, there was a general perception or at least a hope that there would be a recovery back to pre-coronavirus normal no later than by Fall. Location-based entertainment (LBE) businesses, including family entertainment centers (FECs), believed they would only have to weather being closed and then operate with reduced attendance and revenues for a few months. Now here we are seven months later in the Fall and the dark cloud of the coronavirus risk and its disruptive impact on our lives and the revenues at LBEs and FECs continues.
Dr. Fauci warned us that a vaccine would not be an overnight event that returns us to a normal way of life. Based on the most optimistic forecasts, even if a vaccine is approved later this year or early next year, there are many uncertainties about ever achieving herd immunity. These include whether the vaccine will have a high enough effectiveness, supply chain challenges of getting it distributed, the need for ultra-cold freezers for many candidate vaccines, the continued decentralized state rather than nationally led efforts, and convincing enough people to get vaccinated. Current surveys find that between 44% and 50% of adults say that if an FDA-approved vaccine to prevent Covid-19 were available right now at no cost, they would agree to be vaccinated, far short of the 75% to 80% probably required to achieve herd immunity. Also, there currently are questions about how long immunity lasts. Several people have been reinfected by Covid-19, in one documented case with a virus with a different genetic makeup than for their first infection, inferring that catching the coronavirus or being vaccinated does not necessarily afford immunity. Immunity may only last for a few months, such as with the coronaviruses that cause the common cold that only gives short-lived protection. The coronavirus might be like the flu, requiring us to get annual vaccinations to protect us from new genetic mutations.
Even under the most optimistic scenario, social distancing, face coverings, and operating and capacity restrictions on many pub
lic business activities, including LBEs and FECs, will continue at least into late 2021 and possibly longer. There will probably not be an end to the pandemic, but rather a slow fade, easily stretching into at least 2022 or later. Even then, t
he coronavirus will probably not be entirely eliminated even if it is no longer an immediate pandemic-level threat. The coronavirus will likely become endemic—meaning slow, sustained transmission will persist. The virus will continue to cause smaller outbreaks, much like seasonal flu. Whether bacterial, viral, or parasitic, all but one disease pathogen that has affected people over the last several thousand years is still with us because it is nearly impossible to eradicate them entirely. The only disease that has been eradicated through vaccination is smallpox.
More than 7 in 10 adults (72%) currently consider the coronavirus a severe or moderate health risk in their local community.
The most recent Axios/Ipsos poll finds that more than 6 in 10 adults consider dining in a restaurant (62%) and attending in-person gatherings of friends and family outside of their household (62%) a large or moderate risk…