The Coronavirus: The Year Ahead

We are now facing a very unhappy future

The coronavirus is spreading from biggest cities to its suburbs, and has begun encroaching on the nation’s rural regions. In many localities, refrigerated trucks are are used as mobile morgues. People are running out of food and money and it is not clear to anyone where this crisis is leading us.

When are we going to be allowed to emerge from our homes? How long will it take before we have a treatment or vaccine? After the end of the lockdowns, how will we keep the virus at bay? One thing is for sure, the path forward depends on a carefully staggered approach to reopening.

If we want to avoid a second wave of the pandemic, the path forward will depend on such factors as a widespread international testing and surveillance program, the development of a treatment that works, adequate resources for health care providers and, eventually, an effective vaccine.

Tomorrow will not be that happy

What I am foreseeing for the near future is an unhappy population trapped indoors for months, with the most vulnerable possibly quarantined for far longer. A vaccine will elude scientists long enough to cause weary citizens to abandon lockdown and social distancing restrictions. The virus will most certainly ease off during the next summer but I do not see a vaccine arriving before that time.

While most experts believed that once the crisis will be over, the world and its economy will revive quickly, I do not share that opinion. On the contrary, there will be no escaping of an intensive period of pain and many will never recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

The next two years will proceed in fits and starts

As more immune people will get back to work, more of the global and local economy will recover. Exactly how the pandemic will end depends in part on medical advances still to come. It will also depend on how individuals, people like you and me, will behave.

If we scrupulously protect ourselves and our loved ones, more of us will live. If we underestimate the virus, it will find us. If too many of us get back to work too soon, businesses reopen to rapidly, new mandatory lockdowns and social distancing, will again become inevitable.

The virus will tell us when it will be safe again.

For most businesses, the road to recovery will be difficult

As the coronavirus pandemic moved across the world, the stock market plunged, sales plummeted and all businesses deemed nonessential were ordered to close, some of them to never reopen.

The coronavirus has profoundly altered our daily life, ushering in sweeping upheavals to the global economy. In a matter of weeks, pillars of businesses and industry essentially ground to a halt.

This is the sharpest decline in consumer spending that we have ever seen. Deprived of income, without a job, customers of have simply stopped spending. How people spend determines which businesses will survive. With no end to the outbreak in sight, consumer spending is likely to be declining for many months to come.

With no end to the outbreak in sight, consumer spending is likely to be fundamentally different from what it used to be.

Here is a look at how it has already been shifting: Grocery sales are way up; Spending on travel has slumped; Restaurant sales have plunged; Shopping is down overall; Spending on transportation is way down; Except for video games companies and streaming services, spending on media and entertainment have dramatically sunk. Spending on health has also fallen.

Beyond contributing to a record surge in unemployment claims, the ruined restaurant industry is likely to aggravate broader economic woes. The forced stoppage of consumer spending is precipitating the economic crisis.

Many businesses that were blooming are suffering potentially fatal blows.

What can you do about it?

As the spread of COVID-19 creates the largest monthly North American job losses in more than 40 years, disrupts business routines and infects thousands of people across the world, some analysts are wondering what a careful restart of the economy would look like.

Only one thing is for sure: the “New Normal” will include continued public health restrictions for at least the next several months. As the conditions around the world remain in flux, it is imperative for every business and business owners to start thinking about investments that will allow them to emerge stronger from the crisis.

There are going to be a lot of opportunities coming out from the Coronavirus pandemic and the strength of the recovery will depend on the willingness of households, executives, businesses’ owners and investors to pick up where they left.

And the time is “NOW”!

You certainly don’t want to waste a crisis!

There are going to be a lot of opportunities coming out from the Coronavirus pandemic. As the coronavirus pandemic moved across the world, the stock market plunged and many of the world’s businesses closed, there is still hope: “Customers are going online!”

What you want to do is to use that Coronavirus Crisis to change things, to change the way you do things to accelerate trends that were there already and build on the fact that there is now a social demand for this kind of change.

If there is no more traffic in your store, in your office, in your warehouse, if you are not already there, go online. If you already are online, my best advice to you: while using a softer approach to drive sales, keep posting to capture this new demand. The idea is to aim for positivity and calmness rather than stress or anxiety.

Online sales and essential workers are the new commodities that everyone is and will be looking for in the near, medium and long-term future.

If you do not have an online sales strategy, you are doomed. If your services or products can be offered online, do it know.

You don’t have the money to do it! Ask for governmental funding. While amassing debts for the younger generations, governments are borrowing hundreds of billions of dollars to help you and, almost no questions asked.

Have a concrete plan to save your business now, ensure its survival and establish good foundations for the future. The Covid-19 is providing you with a unique opportunity. You now have access to funds that you would never have been able to access or obtain otherwise. Take that money and invest it wisely.

As for the “essential workers” I see their market value and power rising, and that is s a very, a very good thing. We need to pay them more to retain and attract them.

It is about time for everyone to realize that everyone, every member of our society, from the janitor, the garbage collector to the king, the queen and the emperor is a valuable player.

While the road to recovery may prove to be difficult, for who keeps an open mind and comes out with creative solutions, there is hope. For who keeps his eyes open, there are opportunities.

Where there is a will, there is always a solution. And, resignation never is that solution! You need assistance, I am here to help you.

And don’t forget: Staying In is So In!

Michel Ouellette, ll.l, ll.m

Business Growth Strategist

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Michel Ouellette / Joseph Michael Dennis, is a former attorney, a Trial Scientist, a Crisis & Reputation Management Expert, a Public Affairs & Corporate Communications Specialist, a Warrior for Common Sense and Free Speech.

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