First identified in December 2019 in China, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown a sweeping effect across the world. In almost all sectors health, films, business, travel to many more. We are dealing with a worldwide pandemic, lockdowns, the persisting threat of the coronavirus, and the possible consequences in our own ways. However, we are unaware of how long is it going to take for the COVID 19 pandemic to get over. And to cope with the unprecedented damage that has been done. The pandemic has affected lifestyle, a wrecked economy, different fields, and jobs because of the havoc unleashed by COVID-19.
The only thing that we know for sure is that the life that lies ahead of us is going to be very different from than pre-COVID era. Never have we imagined or experienced anything even close to this. A total shut down and the aftereffects, much less have a framework prepared to deal with the frailty. Nevertheless, great disruptions open the door that leads to the golden opportunity to start afresh and find new ways to attain our goals.
Impact of COVID-19
Self-isolation and social distancing are becoming the new normal. Amidst this, what are the chances for the survival of a business built around teamwork and communal experience?
Out of all the industries, the film industry has a substantial impact on the pandemic. And is in a ripple effect causing agony to the people in this industry. The Chinese film industry was hit first and immediately after the outbreak- just the weeks after the first case appeared in Wuhan. The timing was devastating as it was one of the most gainful and profit-making weeks for cinema. The eve of the Chinese New Year holiday, the 20-day period that earned $1.5 billion in 2019.
Soon after almost 70,000 theatres were shut down in China, the virus started spreading all around the world. Cinemas shut down in other places too like in Italy, Arab, Spain, etc. While Ireland, UK, and France tried to enforce social distancing and keep cinemas going but it was short-lived. Hollywood began to feel the effects and with time the impact grew, even more, ranging from delayed or canceled film releases, film festivals, concerts, and shooting of movies.
For instance, San Diego Comic-Con is canceled at present. Warner Bros released new dates for The Batman and In the Heights. The people related to the industry surely miss their job and the experience of working together but they would find it difficult and a little wary to return after the threat the virus has introduced. The independent cinemas may not reopen any time soon due to the overwhelming rental payments.
The financial ramification is likely to be felt by the filmmakers, studios, theater owners, etc. According to the report of the US entertainment industry union International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), the shutdown has caused a great loss of about 1,20,000 workers that have been laid off in Hollywood. As for Bollywood, Atul Mohan, a Trade Analyst, predicted a weekly loss of about $10.5 million due to the pandemic for the Bollywood industry.
The cinemas and the movie theatres being closed all around the world due to lockdown. Subsequently, the film releases have been delayed indefinitely causing the global box office to drop by billions of dollars. Film productions have been halted. Those that were scheduled to be released during this period have been canceled or postponed indefinitely. Online streaming on the other hand has become extremely popular for passing time at home.
The fans who have been waiting to see their favorite characters in the movies are upset about the postponed dates like the 25th James Bond film “No time to die” has been pushed from April to November, Marvel’s Black Widow, that the fans were waiting for- eagerly since the release of Avengers Endgame, released in 2019, as that character has been killed in it already and this movie was the last the fans were getting, DC’s Wonder Woman 1984 have all been delayed. In India, a Rohit Shetty film, starring Katrina Kaif and Akshay Kumar and another one with Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh were the two movies that the fans were looking forward to- both postponed.
Revolutionary Period in the Pandemic
Apparently, exploring for other options, Universal became the first studio to transform from the traditional theatrical window of exclusivity by releasing some new movies to be watched by people directly at home instead of the 90-days wait, as the theatres have been shuttered like The Hunt, The Invisible Man and Emma. This led to more studios adopting the same strategy and then Warner Brothers’ Birds of Prey and Pixar’s Onwards followed the suit. Thus, it might turn out to be a turning point for the studios and mark the beginning of launching the films simultaneously on-demand as well as in cinemas, to become a common practice.
Artists in distress
The major players are equally vulnerable as the industry itself. Rita Walson and Tom Hanks announced that they were tested positive for the virus on March 12. Moreover, many other actors have revealed their diagnoses like Game of Thrones star Kristofer Hivju, British stalwart Idris Elba, Olga Kurylenko, Daniel Dae Kim, and surprisingly Harvey Weinstein– a disgraced producer and convicted sex offender, was tested positive in the prison on March 23.
The festivals are also in jeopardy. The SXSW was the first event canceled. It was scheduled from March 13-22 in Texas. This was the first and foremost major blow for the filmmakers. To cope with the financial loss, the organizers let go of one-third of their staff (the estimated loss is $350 million). Those who were employed- caterers, staff, etc., wound up with empty pockets. A week later, the Tribeca Film Festival was postponed. Then followed by the Cannes- all within a gap of one week each. Jostling for a position after rescheduling when possible, would be troublesome for the small film festivals beside Telluride, Venice, and Toronto and may result in altogether cancellation.
The Paused Productions
Those who were in the middle of producing a movie have been hit even worse due to pandemics. The pandemic has already halted 144 TV shows and 34 films like The Matrix 4, The Batman, Jurassic World: Dominion, Stranger Things, Euphoria, and many more on the list. The approximate cost of putting a halt on the production and crew is $350,000 per day. (for Disney as told by the Hollywood Reporter)
The Post-Pandemic Crisis Scenario for Cinema
There are opportunities to be found in the new world the cinema would enter. The industry is preparing itself to bypass the roadblocks and hurdles. The sets are closed but the rooms of the writers are still on and working with more vigor. Online promotions and coordination are happening across the board. SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild- American Federation Of Television and Radio Artists), and The Casting Society Of America are pledging to adopt the measures of online screening as well as sales.
Moreover, in China, the cinemas are reopening now. On 20th March, around 486 theatres were open yet the sales of the tickets have not reached the expected marks after the prolonged wait. Apparently, no tickets were sold in coastal regions of Fujian and Guangdong.
In summary, the people are likely to take some time before they finally regain the confidence to visit theatres and return to the cinemas the way it was before COVID-19. Cinema would definitely endure, but the time and the form it would take after the crisis is still a mystery.
The drill for the photographers
In the wake of coronavirus, all the industries and workers have faced repercussions. Among them, the demand for photographers has declined shockingly with the practice of self-isolation and social distancing. With the economic recession, the Photography Industry is also under problems. With the decline in demand, the small photographers do not have any source of revenue. They are surviving on their savings. All events big and small are canceled or postponed. Yet, as a tackling measure, the photographers cut back the cost and the flexibility comes into play to meet the declined revenue and reduced budget.
Apparently, the bright side of this industry is that there is always a scope to do something new and innovative with the skills and it is the time to show all those scrolling through their feed and surfing the net at their homes, your unique photography skills to stand out among all the competitors. Promoting the business and gaining potential customers by putting oneself on the work is the hack for this COVID-19 pandemic.
Many different ways of doing the same are:
- Improving the portfolio by working on the website
- Increasing the activity, interactive sessions, and using social media management skills right now.
- This is the time one can truly work up to the potential to lift the business as much as possible.
‘Health is more important than wealth’, thus keep the safety measures in place.
Different strategies to deal with different situations in different areas
The businesses and enterprises both the small ones and the medium ones are severely affected. They are suffering immensely and those who survived are also on the same road headed to recovery as others. Most of them have adopted short-term strategies for survival. They are doing so by retaining the cash and the core team in the business. By cutting costs and putting off the cash outflow to retain it wherever possible as “cash is the king”. And, long-term strategies to rebuild the business by not taking anything for granted. This time, challenging all status quo, focusing on the core business and ways to expand it.
Realizations and improvements
Some improvements and amendments might be a game-changer for many by observing what is blooming even during the hardest of the time. E-commerce is rapidly increasing across all spheres. The auto sector and real estate should integrate with home and auto loan providers. Banks should consolidate or merge instead of being hung up on the ideology that opening more and more branches is the key to development.
Physical to digital
Converting as much of the processes as possible from physical to digital is the need of the situation, be it for business or almost anything that one can imagine- order processing, communication, client servicing, etc. It is an imperative measure and not just a trend.
Wherever necessary, a solution is to introduce staff compensation, and performance bonuses for better flexibility. And also to keep the business going one should refrain from raising the cost of products or services when they are most needed by the consumers/customers. Just the motive to earning a profit during a hard time leads to a degraded reputation and loss of customers.
Technology and COVID 19
In all spheres of business, technology development is going to become the most crucial investment. The pandemic is acting like a fillip to the pace of technological development- a chance to catch up with the missed opportunities. The sudden boost in the usage of applications like Zoom for communication and OTT platforms for entertainment in just a couple of months is evident enough to state the fact that during the crisis, what could have taken several years to develop and gain popularity in terms of new technology, reached that mark in mere months. Also, the technologically developed and advanced businesses or companies kept working enforcing “work from home” strategies.
Work from home
Hot-desking would become a thing of the past and staggering shifts would be looked into. And, thoroughly planning the way things would work when it comes to discussions, meetings, sharing the same equipment, same walking routes, etc. without putting anybody in danger. Securing personal protective equipment or sanitizing buildings timely and wearing masks is the very least that is bound to be considered. Temporarily, adopting the “work-from-home” strategy is the safest way of curbing the virus. Several companies and businesses would look into the adoption of this strategy now.
Kate Lister predicted that the workers would be looking forward to this “happy medium”. As it would save time for those who used to put up at a fairly large distance from their workplace. As a result, it would split the time between remote work coupled with less pollution and showing up at work. And, on top of that, it would save the money spent on fuel and the daycare. Moreover, it is an opportunity to prove that they can work without the need for constant supervision from the managers or the boss.
The new normal would be about self-realization that nurturing all the relationships is the basic thing for a happy life that we were taking for granted. Employees, friends, customers, and family members- all the relationships need proper and clear communication, care, time, and respect.
The new normal lifestyle
Social distancing would be the negotiated tough path into the new normal life. It is essential to keep the coronavirus at bay and move forward cautiously. The pandemic has resulted in a different approach and behavior of people. As warned by the researchers – some are temporary while others are potentially permanent. They have ruled out large gatherings, weddings, malls, places of worship, concerts, etc.
The list of the day-to-day routines that became almost normal and unnoticeable like traffic jams, would not be a part of our lives now for the time being. Moreover, people are adapting to these changes as the pandemic is becoming a bigger and indispensable part of our lives. It is dampening the festivities, the psychological effects are also a topic of major concern. Studies have shown that outbreaks like Ebola, swine flu, SARS, etc. trigger depression, stress, and anxiety among people.
The highly expected victims of anxiety and stress are frontline workers, doctors, and closed ones of patients infected. The struggle to regulate the emotions and the PTSD that follow the traumatic situations is longer than it seems.
The continued lockdowns are temporary solutions. Many countries can not afford longer lockdowns due to hunger and the threatening unemployment. The safest and realistic way to deal with COVID-19 is quarantining potential patients and strict norms for hotspots. While the rest move on with their lives while following social-distancing as to not spread the virus.
The emotional impact
Hugging, kissing, or any form of physical intimacy whatsoever, is likely to pose a risk. People may have a hard time adapting to this. But it would completely highlight the conventional factors building the relationships- trust and communication.
As the lockdown has resulted in shutting down malls, wholesale markets, and showrooms, online shopping has seen a rise. It is the way to go shopping sitting in your house protecting yourself and the people around you. Moreover, some out-of-town shopping outlets will reopen with social distancing in place during the pandemic.
Pandemic and Public Transport
The pandemic has affected public transportation really badly. As social distancing is the best way to resist the spread. There are likely to be fewer people using buses, trains, etc. because keeping distance between passengers can be troublesome. However, a rail boss has suggested reducing the capacity of the trains to board the passengers could be reduced by 70-90%. Apart from that, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has speculated the possibility of businesses being asked to stagger the working hours of employees.
Apparently, a leaked report of Transport for London (TfL) says to maintain the 2m or 6 feet apart distance between the people, the speculated number is 50,000 passengers boarding the Tube every 15 minutes as opposed to the peak hour figures of 325,000 passengers boarding every 15 minutes. The world is looking forward to adapting the same to deal with the pandemic effectively.
Maintaining social distancing is “physically impossible” for airports, said Airlines, John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow’s boss. Yet, health screening, thermal imaging, and limiting the number of passengers are the measures that can be adopted.
One thing is quite evident, people should keep their mouths covered by masks and frequently wash hands, especially while traveling. The basic necessity and the demand of the situation is the safety of one and all.
Education or “Webucation”
There are a lot of possibilities that have emerged to fight the crisis. Schools and colleges are adapting reformed strategies for their scholars. They are- “a blend of at-home and in-school learning”, redesigned classrooms, online lectures, etc. It would surely take time but so do all the revolutions. It will definitely turn out to be a technologically sound system of education.
Gym, swimming pools, sports
As a result of lockdown, swimming pools, gyms, stadiums, and many venues have been shut down. And their reopening would be probably accompanied by stricter norms now. The Pool Management Group has highlighted the need of disinfecting the swimming pools. Also, some other measures are reducing the number of swimmers in each slot. And, cutting short the duration of time allowed to each swimmer.
While, for sports, there are similar negotiations that would be made. The Lawn Tennis Association, the England Golf, and many other sports associations are discussing and waiting for government orders. On resuming the matches and series yet it is “too early for any kind of speculation”. The sports experience might include matches with no spectators. Or, a few only allowed to watch while maintaining social distancing norms. On the other hand, there are absolutely no words on reopening for the gyms. The basic strategy would be creating multiple batches at different timings, maintaining social distancing, and regularly disinfecting the places.
Pubs, Restaurant, and Cinemas
These are most probably going to be among the last places to reopen. The government guidance draft stated that seated areas, bars, and cafes or restaurants must remain close even after the reopening of the economy. Hence, only the takeaways are working. Because mixing with people outside the household especially in a small environment is not a good idea. Moreover, the waiters, cooks, cleaners, and the staff alone would fill the place enough making social distancing impossible.
Although, Tim Richards, the boss of Vue Cinemas, has said that hopefully screens would reopen in mid-July. The reopening will be along with the implementation of social distancing measures. But staging the musicals is still a faraway possibility.
The impact of the pandemic would ripple through every layer of our social fabric. The uncertainty and changes can be overwhelming but we can reimagine our future. We can expect a brighter future after we are out of this war. The path to recovery is a long one. If we stick and stand together, we can make it through all the hurdles.
Read more about the COVID-19 pandemic, here.
“Hard times do not last, hard people do.”