Wednesday the full stay-at-home order ends and morphs into another phase. One step closer.
The most posed question to us in recent days is “what will it be like?” What will it be like watching businesses open, school return and some sense of normalcy fall across the province as quickly as this pandemic did roughly 14 months ago?
Of course, those specific answers were not readily available Tuesday before the press deadline. Premier Ford’s last promised word on the subject would be in a “day or two.”
What is known is that the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health unit expects to hit a 70 per cent vaccination rate by month’s end. This should lead to more freedom and more opportunity to enjoy the summer. Time with friends, family and colleagues will surely be welcome after weeks and months of wariness.
To be fair, the people asking the question about what happens were business types. In some small measure we are all businesspeople – working for a living and often dependent on elements beyond our control.
For many forced to close, it will take days and perhaps weeks to get back into business. Staffing, which already is seen as an issue for rebounding states south of the border, could be a problem here too. After over a year of calamity, many getting close to retirement when the pandemic began may just decide to go early and not return to work. Finding good people is not easy and the demand is great.
Along with that obvious issue of re-tooling and getting the right people in positions will be the upward pressure on wages. Surely everyone recognizes at this point the bugbear of inflation is quite real with commodity prices soaring in recent months. This will make stretching a pay cheque even more difficult.
The modest correction in wages that most of us would find sensible will be an almost impossible task for those businesses that were forced to shut down again this spring. Without a rainy day fund or a helpful banker, we think it will be a real challenge for tourism and hospitality-based businesses to get up and running again. Cash is king as they say and despite an ample amount of cash in circulation, those who need it to get rolling again will need time to get that register humming.
Further to these problems, many sectors are suffering from shortages in product. For car makers, their biggest issue currently is the computer chips needed to run vehicles today. Various reasons like factory issues and limited suppliers have made what seems to be a simple problem into an issue that may take weeks or months to remedy.
Similarly, the lumber and plastics industry are facing shortages of supply which has caused crazy pricing. As factories throttle up and get supply going, prices should level out and products become more affordable. Whether they return to pre-pandemic levels is anyone’s guess, but chances are modest increases are here to stay.
Patience and a concerted effort to shop locally will help get our local businesses up and running again.
The short answer to “What will it be like?” – it will definitely be different and in due time it will be better.