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Will vaccinations create a roaring rebound to attending in-person events?

The public’s comfort levels participating in restaurant dining and entertainment and cultural activities are rising with infections low and vaccinations accelerating.

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Comfort going to the movies is highest with Millennials and lowest with Boomers.

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An early February Bankrate survey found that vaccinations will positively impact the percentage of the population that will feel comfortable going out and visiting businesses, rising from just over one-half comfortable without the vaccine (51%) to over three in four if vaccinated (76%). However, almost one in four adults (24%) said they would still be uncomfortable visiting consumer businesses even after getting vaccinated.

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A just-released Harris Poll possibly sheds some light on this hesitation. It also found that full vaccination alone will not have everyone comfortable in attending public activities. Twenty-three percent of people Harris surveyed say they won’t feel safe eating indoors, and 32% won’t feel comfortable attending a concert or sporting event until the country gets to herd immunity.

There could be several reasons why full vaccination alone won’t get everyone out into the public. Although the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines have now been shown in real-world conditions to be 90% effective from getting symptomatically infected with Covid and 100% effective from serious illness requiring hospitalization or resulting in death, there is still a 10% risk of getting a mild case and possibly experiencing long-term Covid-related health issues. Some people report they are concerned they could get an asymptomatic infection and transmit it to others even when vaccinated. There are some people who can’t get vaccinated due to medical conditions. Immunosuppressed people face a potential triple threat from Covid-19 – higher risk of serious illness from infection, lack of immune response to the virus, and reduced vaccine effectiveness.

Herd immunity is achieved when a large enough share of a population that is immune from vaccination or previous infection reaches the percentage threshold. Then each infected person transmits the disease to an average of less than one new case. The virus, finding inadequate numbers of susceptible people to infect, then starts to die out.

Although the exact threshold requirements to reach herd immunity are unknown and are a moving target based on the emergence of variants and other factors, many experts say it might not be reached until enough children can get vaccinated, probably not until sometime next year. Other experts question whether herd immunity will ever be reached, as not enough people will get vaccinated, or variants will cause the reinfection of people who were vaccinated or previously infected. There is the unknown of exactly how long immunity lasts from infection or vaccination. And, there is the argument by many experts that the U.S. can’t achieve herd immunity until the entire world does.

It’s likely we won’t get to the time when the entire population will again feel comfortable dining in-person at restaurants and attending entertainment and cultural activities until sometime in mid-2022 or later when possibly herd immunity is achieved, or infection rates become incredibly low. Even then, a small single percentage of the population report they will never feel comfortable again.

Restaurants and out-of-home entertainment and cultural venues will need to patient, as it will take a considerable time for their markets to reach pre-Covid attendance potentials. It is possible that it may never be reached for some businesses, while for others, it may be exceeded due to a redistribution of demand based on changed consumers’ preferences and values.

In next week’s issue of our company’s monthly Leisure eNewsletter, we will have an in-depth article examining the post-pandemic stickiness of home nesting and the Fourth Place. We’ll also be discussing a nascent, but growing type of New School community leisure venue that may be the perfect fit for the post-pandemic out-of-home competitive leisure landscape. If you aren’t subscribed, you can do so by clicking here.

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About Randy White

Randy White is CEO and co-founder of the White Hutchinson Leisure & Learning Group. The 31-year-old company, with offices in Kansas City, Missouri, has worked for over 600 clients in 37 countries throughout the world. Projects the company has designed and produced have won seventeen 1st place awards. Randy is considered to be one of the world's foremost authorities on feasibility, brand development, design and production of leisure experience destinations including entertainment, eatertainment, edutainment, agritainment/agritourism, play and leisure facilities.

Randy was featured on the Food Network's Unwrapped television show as an eatertainment expert, quoted as an entertainment/edutainment center expert in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, New York Times and Time magazine and received recognition for family-friendly designs by Pizza Today magazine. One of the company's projects was featured as an example of an edutainment project in the book The Experience Economy. Numerous national newspapers have interviewed him as an expert on shopping center and mall entertainment and retail-tainment.

Randy is a graduate of New York University. Prior to repositioning the company in 1989 to work exclusively in the leisure and learning industry, White Hutchinson was active in the retail/commercial real estate industry as a real estate consultancy specializing in workouts/turnarounds of commercial projects. In the late 1960s to early 1980s, Randy managed a diversified real estate development company that developed, owned and managed over 2.0 million square feet of shopping centers and mixed-use projects and 2,000 acres of residential subdivisions. Randy has held the designations of CSM (Certified Shopping Center Manager) and Certified Retail Property Executive (CRX) from the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC).

He has authored over 150 articles that have been published in over 40 leading entertainment/leisure and early childhood education industry magazines and journals and has been a featured speaker and keynoter at over 40 different conventions and trade groups.

Randy is the editor of his company's Leisure eNewsletter, has a blog and posts on Twitter and Linkedin.

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