A surreal world

Published 21/4, 2020 at 11:16

I had the pleasure of attending the US National Demolition Association’s annual event at the end of February, this time in Austin, Texas. About that time the dreadful Corona virus had started to spread all over the world, but fortunately I made it home.

The last show to take place, before the world ‘closed’, was Conexpo/Conagg held in Las Vegas. Held about a week after the NDA event, the organisers, AEM, ‘made it happen’, but had to close the show one day early due as all flights to and from the USA about to be stopped. Some people attending the show in Vegas had quite some problems getting home. Some did not make it at all and are still stranded in various locations around the world; a tragedy they share with millions of people throughout the world.

I am soon 60 years old and I have never experienced anything like this before, not even close and I find it scary. This virus can either kill you or you hardly feel it. That’s what is scary when we don’t know how we will react to it. It is interesting to see how different countries are dealing with safety precautions. Sweden, where I live, has always been a country that prioritises safety, to an extreme in many instances I would say. But with the Corona virus it is different. The Swedish Health Authorities make daily broadcast instructions so all people in Sweden know how to react to the virus. Wash you hands carefully, social meetings with more then 50 people are forbidden, keep a 2m distance to other people, don’t visit or get in close contact with people over 70 years and so on. However, this has been balanced with the authorities encouraging people to go outdoors as much as they can while other countries have more or less ordered their citizens to stay indoors.

When I go shopping at the local grocery store, it is crowded with people. It is impossible to keep a 2m distance. Now that spring has arrived in Sweden a lot of people here in Stockholm are enjoying a coffee or a beer in the sun and they sit rather close to each other. In Sweden there is no requirement for shops or restaurants to close. Everything is open, but of course many shops are almost empty unless it is a grocery store or the government owned liquor store chain Systembolaget. The latter has a total of 480 stores in the country and that is the only place you can buy alcohol over 3.5% other than in restaurants. Systembolaget is really boosting sales these days, as when many people put themselves in self- isolation, they tend to drink more alcohol. It is a crazy world indeed.

Even though many different service businesses such as hotels, restaurants, entertainers, theatres, concerts, cinemas and so forth are suffering from the effects of the Corona virus, the construction industry seems to carry on, which is the case here in Sweden. I have been talking to quite a number of suppliers of equipment and contractors and the work carries on. There are not many personal sales meeting with clients though, instead the use of virtual meetings have increased dramatically. Diamond tools and machinery are getting delivered in time to the different projects and the contractors keep on doing their job.

However, I feel it is just a question of time before this changes, with it all depending on for how long will this sort of ‘limbo’ go on. I don’t know how much financial endurance there is. The hospitality industry has already exhausted its finances with very few companies having a buffer. In Sweden, many companies from this sector have already gone into bankruptcy and many more will follow if the current situation continues.

2020 has certainly not begun that well, but we must believe in the future and carry on, as there is no other way than forward. The Corona virus has slowed down our pace a bit that’s for sure, but maybe that is something for the good as well. Despite all the terrible things that are happening to people around the world, maybe we can use the situation to stop and think about how we can do things differently when everything starts to move again.

I wish all of you the best and hope you take all the necessary precautions to avoid the Corona virus.

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