It looks like the pandemic and its consequences seem to be happening in phases. In mid-March we all seemed to be looking at government supports with funding, adapting quickly to potential closures, staffing and a lot of time working on maintaining connectivity through online conferencing and webinars. Into early April, collaboration and learning brought in some creative ideas to diversify or pivot operations by some businesses.
After Easter, we seem to be moving towards seeing and trying to find that light at the end of the tunnel. We seem to have projections say we will be getting to the peak in May at some point, barring anomalies in the predictions.
With the apex of infections potentially coming in the near-term, the reality is starting to sink in that everything isn’t starting back up at the same time and possibly the same way businesses have operated pre-pandemic.
Tourism is one sector that will look very different in this new phase. Domestic and international travel will still be challenged to restart anytime soon until there is a way to provide a vaccine or strict controls to manage infections. Once restrictions are lifted, tourism will need to restart in some creative ideas. Large events and sports tourism will have challenges in the near and potentially longer term as well.
The energy sector is the most daunting sector under stress and in the realm of Alberta’s return to beyond normal. It doesn’t help since the sector was also challenged pre-pandemic for the past number of years and pressuring provincial budgeting and services these past few years as well and into the foreseeable future. Hopefully, with global economies coming back and energy in stockpiles hopefully getting used, extraction and refining can ramp again as well, getting prices back to something close to what the province’s budgeting expectations were.
Agriculture seems to be getting some showcasing in the realization of its importance to the economy, labour and necessity of needing to be healthy and viable. In my opinion, innovation in all sectors has come from this sector first throughout history. That seems to be still happening, with farm gate sales and pivoting to the online environment for direct selling. We see the importance of food security and the importance of processing and manufacturing within the agriculture sector a little closer to home. Agri-tourism is also being a means for rural tourism operators to be working with each other and with farms to provide a way to work together on moving products. This activity had been happening before; now, it seems to be another essential way of getting food to the consumer. It’s a seasonal challenge now, due to those long winters, but the sector will innovate to improve food security year-round.
All this seems to be a snapshot of what’s happening locally. Enormous challenges and opportunities are now being realized and focused on, as we look to find a way to restart everything. Ideas and innovation are far more critical than ever. The beginning of this pandemic seems to over, currently working in the trenches is underway to get things moving again.
We seem to be working our way towards something entirely new. I think we won’t be returning to what we knew before as normal; it’ll be something different. I look back to the Spanish Flu pandemic and what the 1920s looked like with huge leaps in innovation and social change. A plague also brought the Renaissance from the Middle Ages as well. As time marches on, I see less of this next goal being a restart towards normal or recognizable, but more of a start of something different and hopefully better. We will adapt, it’s in our nature to survive, evolve and thrive.
It’s a surreal time, and no idea seems crazy anymore. We are in the beginning of the middle and starting to see new ideas coming. Infinite possibilities!