JUNE 9, 2021:
Patience is a virtue that doesn’t come particularly naturally to me; I’m always eager to get a move on with things.
But if the Government decides we should delay the full lifting of lockdown restrictions for a couple more weeks – as now seems increasingly likely – it’s surely not a disaster in the great scheme of things.
It would be much, much worse to throw off the remaining shackles all-guns-blazing on June 21st, only to have to perform a sharp and damaging U-turn just a few weeks down the line.
For bruised and battered leisure and hospitality businesses in need of certainty and confidence after counting the cost of several false dawns, that really could just be the final straw.
So let’s all take a breath and put this current situation into a bit of perspective.
After what we’ve all sacrificed and endured over the past 15 months, we surely owe it to ourselves to emerge from this in the right way, at the right time.
Because when the UK does fully reopen, there can be no going back this time. It must be done with a cast-iron guarantee that lockdowns are over – for the sake of our economic and mental health.
There is never going to be a perfect time for this. Like the flu which also kills thousands of people every year, Covid-19 is going to be with us for generations.
So it’s about weighing up the pro’s and cons – balancing the number of people who are double-jabbed with the levels of understanding and control of these new and more contagious strains of the virus.
I’m not sure anyone, hand on heart, can say that the odds are completely stacked in our favour yet, can they?
Equally, though, we must bear in mind that delaying ‘Freedom Day’ for too long beyond the Government’s original June 21 target could be just as catastrophic for our nation.
People have been cooped up for a very long time, and now want to have a good time with their families. There is a huge pent-up demand to be able to go out and have guilt-free fun. In many quarters, patience is running thin.
A few more days of enforced restrictions won’t make or break us, as long as the reasons are clear. But the leisure and hospitality industry certainly needs to be fully opened up before the school summer holidays, so it can recoup some of the heavy losses incurred over the past year.
We reopened Waterworld Leisure Resort in time for the half term break, and it was a useful exercise to test out some new rules and regulations, and assess customer confidence and demand.
We capped our numbers at 80% of the previous maximum – even though peak time demand was probably double that level.
We’ve also expanded the resort’s outdoor pool areas, as well as launching new combination tickets with our water park and indoor mini golf – allowing customers greater flexibility.
With foreign travel still so uncertain, many families who would previously have holidayed abroad are going to be choosing a staycation instead this year – so I believe there are still many reasons for our sector to be optimistic.
Whether the full lockdown is removed on June 21, or a couple of weeks later, doesn’t alter our belief that summer 2021 is going to be one of our busiest in many years.
So it all comes back to that word, patience. It’s officially described as ‘the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble or suffering without getting angry or upset’, and we’ve had to display plenty of all these qualities over the past 15 months.
That’s why, in my eyes, waiting another couple of weeks for ‘Freedom Day’ feels to me like the right thing to do.
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