The public’s comfort levels participating in restaurant dining and entertainment and cultural activities are rising with infections low and vaccinations accelerating.
Comfort going to the movies is highest with Millennials and lowest with Boomers.
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.
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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