By: Stuart J. Visnov, CEO, Echelon Protection & Surveillance
Word count: 860
New deaths each week, stock market instability and a rate cut by the Fed, means businesses of all kinds should cautiously plan for the overall impact of the coronavirus in the United States. History suggests that big economies like the U.S. are naturally more at risk when people stay home to avoid a virus. It’s not hard to understand that if factories across the globe slow or stop production the supply chain will be disrupted to the point of “supply shock” and lead to a worldwide delay in business. However, we may have more to worry about from the “demand shock” that could develop if people begin to stay home for any extended period of time. No matter the circumstances, the Coronavirus will be contained, run its course and eventually stop. In the next few months we speculate there will be an increased need for security services that protect people and property – while facilities and institutions that temporarily close will employ less security guards until they reopen. Let’s review some key industries and how they could be impacted by the Coronavirus.
Schools are already being temporarily shut down and that means hourly security guards would lose work for an unknown period of time. However, many educational facilities are inquiring about pandemic planning that includes online learning. According to the latest information from health experts, warmer weather may slow the spread of the coronavirus as it does with the seasonal flu.
Construction would likely slow down or see costly delays either because workers are sick or the building materials are not being delivered on schedule. Projects in-progress often have millions in construction materials and equipment on site that will need to be protected for the duration of the delays. A standard “construction watch” could last for months longer than usual if delays become a reality.
Arenas that host concerts, sporting, cultural and entertainment events may be attended less, cancelled or televised without an audience as people choose to avoid unnecessary public interaction for fear of the disease. Professional sports is big business in the U.S. that would effect numerous supporting industries. Access control protocols may start to include mandated hand sanitation stations overseen by security guards. If event, expo and convention centers close down for any period of time, many services that work in tandem with the venue such as food & beverage services, retail, event staff, maintenance crews, parking control and security will be financially effected.
The healthcare industry will suffer as people stop going to their dentist, doctor, the gym or the hospital during an outbreak if a visit isn’t necessary. Health spending is 17% of the U.S. economy. Security companies may see increased requests from health facilities due to long lines, patient stress, unruliness and access control. Infectious disease experts will surely help limit the spread of the virus and work quickly to find a treatment or cure. In addition, many American workers lack paid time off and about 8.5% more don’t have health care coverage. This means people will be less likely to seek proper medical attention or have the financial choice of staying home from work if they’re ill. Going to work when you’re sick is one of the fastest ways the Coronavirus would spread in countries without universal healthcare.
Restaurants could surely experience a drop in business as patrons begin to fear that the cooks, kitchen and wait staff may spread the virus. The restaurant industry makes up a large part of the U.S. gross domestic product. This has already resulted in public panic-buying in some areas as people begin to hoard food, disinfectant products, masks and other perceived necessities. Consumer hoarding is a real problem because it may inadvertently cause actual healthcare workers to go without the basic supplies they need on the front lines.
Retail panic could in-turn spark an increased need for security guards at grocery stores, big box wholesalers and hardware stores. Brick and mortar retail stores are already suffering due to the ease of online shopping. Why take the chance of going to the mall when you have the option of shopping online with no health risk?
The travel, hospitality and tourism industry is already being effected. Americans take about three flights per year on average. Recently, Italy, Iran, China and South Korea were moved into “Warning Level 3” the highest CDC notice level in which travelers are directed to avoid these countries. If travel is absolutely necessary, the CDC advises travelers to speak with their health-care provider regarding best practices. The public and private sector are already postponing and cancelling personal, business and educational trips of all kinds, especially flights and cruises. If this continues, it will have wide reaching effects for retail, hotels, restaurants, rentals, and tourism destinations of all shapes and sizes.
To date, there has been no talk about locking down entire American cities. However, experts are asking citizens in affected areas to practice “voluntary social distancing.” If you own a security guard company, it’s prudent to tell your employees not to come to work sick and provide a paid sick days policy for part time security guards who can’t afford to miss a few days.