As of March 19, Australia has almost 600 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with that number expected to exponentially increase. Social-distancing measures designed to flatten the curve, are changing the way we interact both at home and at work.
Nicholas LePan’s visual portrait of the History of Pandemics illustrates the point that while COVID-19 is on the lower end of the spectrum, it is nonetheless an evolving health crisis that is having serious global economic, mental health and social welfare implications.
With the announcement of a travel ban for all Australians, the subsequent suspension of all international flights from both QANTAS and Virgin, cancellation of significant cultural and sporting events, as well as the closure of large restaurants, cinemas, churches, it is unsurprising that our tourism and hospitality industries are facing immediate and significant business pressures.
Further, as a result of the virtual shutdown in China manufacturing as well as other countries such as Italy, France and Spain, the challenge to source and maintain supply will continue to grow and impact many more industries heavily reliant on overseas inputs.
KPMG, in their recent report Estimating the potential impact of COVID-19 on the Australian Economy suggests that without the stimulus packages announced by the Government, our overall GDP will contract by 0.9 percent, roughly $17 billion dollars and the impacts are set to last well into 2021.
These times are unprecedented in living memory and our continued uncertainty around the evolution of the virus combined with the abrupt changes to our daily life has given rise to some “interesting” behaviours, including the self-induced mass hysterical panic buying of toilet paper, canned goods, mince and the like.
It is natural to fear the unknown, to fear the impact to our daily routine, to our jobs, our income and our security, but the challenge for each of us, and importantly as business leaders, is to focus on what we can do to help our employees, our community and those at risk navigate through these tough conditions. Our advice is to Assess your situation, Implement what is required and Communicate frequently and with consistency to all stakeholders.
There is no doubt that the cure to combat COVID-19 is causing a significant amount of distress, however there is a significant and concerted effort across Government and individuals alike, to ensure business is able to ride out the curve and remain sustainable for the future.
One thing is for sure, the emergence of this new virus has been a boon for the meme / gif industry including my personal favourite from Kermit.
Kerri Lawrence, 20 March 2020