No, the pandemic hasn’t ended. It’s still having a significant impact on indoor family and children’s venues
Covid infections, hospitalizations, and deaths are increasing again in many parts of the U.S. as the more contagious Delta variant spreads. Most infections are for unvaccinated people, but even the fully vaccinated are getting infected, as the mRNA vaccines are still only 90% effective. The majority of infections are now with young people, as they have the lowest vaccination rates. Covid is currently killing at the rate of over 100,000 people per year in the U.S., a far higher death rate than society accepts for any other disease, including the flu.
And on the horizon is the Lambda variant that has come out of Peru. It appears to be even more transmissible than Delta and could result in higher reinfection rates or reduced vaccine efficacy.
We already see an uptick in concern about visiting public places. CivicScience’s June polls found that adults very or somewhat concerned about visiting public places increased from 48% at the beginning of June to 58% at the end of the month, with those not at all concerned declining from 51% to 42%. The Harris Poll is finding a similar trend of increasing concern. Fear of returning to public activity is up 8-points from 46% on May 16th to 54% on July 4th. Comfort with going out to dinner and drinks dropped 3-points over the week before July 4th.
The growing risk of infection significantly concerns families with children younger than age 12, as currently, there is no approved vaccine for young children. Research by IMPACTS Experience as of July 2nd found the majority of people with children under age 13 don’t feel comfortable attending cultural venues without a mask. Their research found a wide disparity on whether cultural venues should have mandatory mask requirements. For high-propensity visitors, people who intend to visit in the next 90 days, only one-third (32%) of households without children <13 believe the venue should have a mask mandate. For families with children <13, it rises to two-thirds wanting a mask requirement (68%).
IMPACTS Experience’s research found that families with young children continue to choose to stay home or participate in activities that are perceived as safer for their unvaccinated children than indoor experiences, the same leisure activity preferences they’ve had throughout the pandemic. These are outdoor activities include zoos, gardens, outdoor historical sites, and outdoor performances. Many of our company’s agritourism clients saw an increase in attendance last year over 2019 and continue to see attendance at historic levels this year due to their experiences being outdoors.
For the immediate future, any entertainment or cultural venues that primarily target families with young children should seriously consider having a mask requirement to maximize their appeal and attendance.
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