The emergence of Omicron, the latest variant of concern in the ongoing COVID-19 saga, comes when most golf operations in this country have shut down for the year, but should the industry consider this a temporary setback or something more long term that might touch the beginning of next season?
The answer to that question is not readily available, at least not yet. Give it a couple of weeks as research defines how transmittable the new variant is and whether it is resistant to the jabs we’ve been taking in our arms for the better part of a year.
In the meantime, the fallout has begun with travel restrictions being put in place around the world for those arriving from South Africa, where it was first identified, and other countries in that region and those could expand, based on how the new variant spreads around the world.
With Canada having identified cases, this country could be directly impacted by such bans that Hong Kong has already put in place for visitors from this country.
That will hit the travel industry hard once again and one wonders if the uncertainty of the situation will cause people to back off that golf trip down south they were hoping to take or decide against attending the PGA Show in Orlando in January.
A couple of weeks ago, the GNN Poll asked readers if they had decided to attend the show or pass on it. The majority, or 54 per cent of respondents, said they were passing, 35 per cent said they usually don’t go anyway and only 11 per cent said they were attending.
That was before anyone had heard of Omicron, so expect the new variant to change those numbers, with less than two months until the show.
The couple of weeks that researchers will need to understand the impact of the new strain will take us to mid-December, or the middle of the holiday season, and the uncertainty of the situation may cause some to be hesitant about socializing at parties or dinners booked through food and beverage departments or shopping for the golfers on their lists.
As the picture becomes clearer about Omicron, consumer and corporate confidence could become shakier if it’s bad news.
Last Friday, the emergence of the new variant caused stock markets to tumble and word from the CEO of Moderna on Tuesday that vaccines weren’t likely to be as effective as they were against the Delta variant set off more warning signals to financial markets.
Any introduction of lockdowns, if that be the case, would slow economic growth, disrupt supply chains even more than is already the case and fuel inflation beyond what it is now for businesses who must charge higher prices and consumers who must pay more.
Uncertainty is the uncomfortable feeling we’re experiencing now, but we can’t allow it to overwhelm us either because we don’t know, not yet anyway, what’s coming our way and how long it will last.
We’ve been down this road before through several waves of COVID-19 and even if researchers find out that Omicron isn’t as threatening as initially feared, there could very well be more mutations to deal with beyond it.
All we can do is our best to ensure the health and safety of our members, guests and staff members and hope that everyone understands that what we’re doing at any given time is based on what we know now, not next week or next month or next season.