Facing the Challenge of Returning to Normal
By Jeff Koehler
If April on the island is any indication of things to come this season, then hang on for a gangbuster summer. That all sounds well and good for island businesses that depend on being busy during the short tourist season to be successful, but getting back to normal after Covid will still be a challenge.
Put-in-Bay has weathered a lot of adverse times, and we’re sure the islands will return to some degree of normalcy this year after last season. After one season of Covid and going into a second season with the pandemic not completely over, some problems linger.
One report on the internet from NPR titled “Life in the Roaring 2020s” had this interesting quote: “We might see people seeking out more social interactions at nightclubs, bars, music festivals and sports games, as well as people relentlessly spending the money that saved up during the pandemic.” It sounds similar to the infamous 1920s after World War I and the pandemic the world faced in 1918.
Will Put-in-Bay be prepared? That’s the million dollar question. After the reports coming from Florida about the problems with the spring break crowds, there certainly has to be concerns about whether we will see something similar this season. Put-in-Bay’s police officials will have to be planning for the tough job ahead of them as they deal with the busy weekends.
As more and more people get vaccinated, more and more will feel comfortable coming to the islands. Being pent up and with summer coming, there’s no doubt the islands will experience an upsurge in visitation. Island businesses, many dependent on foreign student workers, are having difficulties getting them. One employer we talked to said he could use 30 workers, would be satisfied if he could get 10, and doubted whether he could even get than many. Without the needed workers, there will certainly be a strain on the system.
Island businesses also face a challenge getting American students and adults to work. This trend has been worsening over the years. Some who we have talked to say the extra few hundred dollars added to unemployment checks this past year is a detriment to people wanting to work. They can collect more on unemployment than they can working.
The safety services on the island must also meet the needs of the anticipated visitor influx. Both the police department and the EMS are looking for trained and qualified workers. The Village is also having problems finding maintenance staff workers.
If you’re a business owner at Put-in-Bay, you’ve still got a problem when it comes to requiring your employees to be vaccinated. All they need is to have an outbreak of Covid traced back to their business. A closedown could potentially cost thousands in lost revenue, but with some valuable employees not wanting to be vaccinated, what do you do?
The Village of Put-in-Bay depends on two important revenues, docking fees at the public docks and the 1 1/2 percent gross receipts tax it collects for doing business in a resort area. These revenues were much smaller than usual in 2020 and will affect the Village’s books in 2021 and probably in 2022, too. There’s no doubt things will be tight this year and into next.
Facing the unknown is always tough, but we’re sure our island community will rise to the challenges that still remain. 2021 is certainly going to be better than 2020, and the island community will get through it one way or another.
All the news in the Put-in-Bay Gazette is based on facts, either observed and verified first, second or third hand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources or from wide-spread rumors. We never use fact-check websites because our island news is too new for the fact checkers to accurately check.
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