George Nicon Andritsakis
Ridin' with 'Rona
I'm going to come right out and say it. The Travel Genius was wrong and completely befuddled by the severity and strength of the COVID-19 virus. As I mentioned in my last blog, when I connected through Dallas/Ft. Worth Airport last month, most people were NOT wearing masks, but there were long lines at the restrooms and everyone washing their hands and sanitizing them elsewhere. We went from that to utterly empty airports, airliners parked in rows on taxiways and spare runways due to the DRASTIC drop from nearly 100% full flights to some flights with only 1 passenger, or a lot of times, none on board. This virus spread so fast and so far wide most countries afflicted didn't know what hit them. I refuse to get political on these posts, but some countries started flattening the curve fast (I'm looking at you, Greece, proud of ya!), others...well...not so much (from what I heard, the UK was pretty bad off, not to mention the various spots here in the United States.
We've seen the U.S Economy (and as a result, the global economy) come crashing to an almost full stop halt, the tourism, hospitality, gaming, food service/supply, and most every non-essential industry completely gutted and wiped out. We as humans, have seen the bravery of our doctors, nurses, first-responders, grocery store clerks, airport and airline staff, cargo and freight drivers day after day doing their damnedest to keep not just this country going, but almost every country around the world. We've seen the utter hypocrisy, obnoxiousness, gluttony, and uselessness of a wide range of celebrities and politicians (as I write this, I am hearing of Princess Sofia of Sweden put down her crown, begin training, and is now helping out in a Swedish hospital, cooking and cleaning. In my opinion, she a true role model girls and women everywhere can look up to). People who are normally strong have been weakened, those who were usually weak have stepped up and become solid rocks for others. I am both proud and ashamed of the human race at the same time. People have died, yes, as they have in pandemics throughout history. We mourn those who we've lost, and rejoice with those that recover.
Going forward, little by little, this world will gradually open up, where it is safe to do so. As of the time of this writing, Texas and Utah will begin a soft partial open of essential businesses this week. Nevada, which is very tourism dependent for a large chunk of its economy, is planning on reopening various Las Vegas casinos by May 1. New York and California remain on extremely strict lock-downs, as they should. Will things ever go back to normal after this? Yes, with time, and possibly with certain proactive and protective measures taken from here on out. From my own perspective in my industries, I've seen social distancing put to good effect on the flights i have been on thus far, no one sitting in middle seats (I still can't believe it took a pandemic for THIS lovely side effect to happen), and if its an aircraft with 2x2 layout, the aisle seats have been blocked out (everybody gets a window seat!). In the airports, TSA has suspended certain restrictions at the checkpoints, striving for as little personal contact as possible, while still pretending to keep our country safe. Airports have consolidated operations where they could to keep things running while not earning a dime of revenue during this time. Also, almost every single airline in the United States has stepped up to the plate, and while they are hemorrhaging cash, they are flying medical staff and first-responders where they need to be, GRATIS. Bravo to them.
Aside from the airlines, the cruise industry was probably harder hit than any other industry. Various cruise ships all over the globe were not permitted to dock due to infected passengers aboard. Had this gone on longer, we would've seen ships floating on the oceans with nothing but corpses. Other cruise lines, such as Cunard, brought all three of their Queens (the Queen Mary 2 even cancelled her World Cruise mid-itinerary) back to Southampton, England for docking while we flatten the curve.
The only blame I will place publicly is on the labs in China where this was unleashed from, whether intentionally or accidentally, it doesn't matter, the damage is done. Let's get this under control and let's get back up to speed. I have a feeling 2021 will the biggest party year of this century. We, as a global society, need a massive release after this.