Originally I intended this post to be aimed at motorbike riders since some (and not all) of us like to ride alone. Social distancing and motorbike life seemed like a match made in heaven. However, I’ve rewritten this post aiming at each and every single one of us, because only together we will overcome this unprecedented event in human history.
By now I guess you might have seen that the world has, is and will be changing in the coming months and most likely years to come.
Travelling will no longer be the same due to safety and healthy restrictions and this will make us think about how we travel and enjoy our weekends, bank holidays, basically life in general if we live alone or with our family. Although this post was intended for motorbike riders I realised that this applies to all of us and not just to riders.
It’s been over a month since people in Spain (where I live) have been locked down in their houses not able to travel anywhere, and while it’s still early to predict when we will be allowed to go out and leave of houses without any restrictions I am sure when that happens most of us will want to go away, anywhere, but away from our houses to enjoy the fresh air and landscapes. Sadly, getting together with our friends and whole family won’t be possible until we get an effective vaccine for COVID-19 which even with the best efforts might be available to us early 2021.
In some countries going out is still possible and restrictions are not as severe as in Italy or Spain. Yes, it is true that every country has played this game differently. Still, once the authorities let us go out of our houses we most likely would like to go for a walk, hike or ride. This will make naturally consume our body energy, consequentially we will get hungry and look for food. Before COVID-19 we would visit that great rustic restaurant located two or three hours ride, hid in the forest, spreading the nice smell of roasting meat and vegetables. We would be happy to get the nice and friendly service given by the restaurant or bar owner; the embedded chat with the owner and the occasional beer or wine glass with other people who also popped into the bar.
Yet, we all need to understand that once we’re allowed to go out “social distance” will be important to keep COVID-19 from spreading. Thus, bars and restaurant’s alike will need to adapt to new ways of doing business if they want to survive and keep their business running. Big challenges are coming ahead and one of the main challenges will be understand that people’s purchase power will not be the same as before COVID-19 and despite the best efforts from governments around the world to boost the economies of their countries the actual effect of that help will not be immediately translated to the people, that means to you, your neighbour, your workmate.
Hence, we all must understand that there is a way out, this new way is by behaving a bit more like ants and bees and less like humans, the means we all must understand our role and how we contribute to the common good because in the end everything is a chain of events that together will lead us to help our countries and ultimately the world’s economy together.
How we can help? Enter Local Businesses
I know that I might be repeating myself and it is true must countries will have a different plan on how to get their economy back to positive numbers, but one thing is certain international tourism will not be (at least for a year) one of them because international travelling will not resume back to normal until we are 100% that passengers cannot contract COVID-19 again whilst flying or travelling by ship/ferry/cruise. Hence, we all must look inwards, that means to explore the country where we currently live and enjoy the places you have always wanted to go but instead decided to jump on a plane and travel +8 hours and change 8 times zones to enjoy a different culture. Now it is the time to explore our surroundings and help the business wherever we go. Still, this game will have two players, the customers and the bar/farms/shop/service owners.
- Understand that social distance is important, especially if the bar or shop you want to visit employs old people. Remember to wear a mask at all times and wear gloves when possible. I understand that in some countries masks and gloves are not widely available and if that is the case remember to cover your mouth properly in order to avoid spreading the virus.
- Keep in mind that you will not be able to sit down inside a restaurant or bar. If the place as an open sitting plan outdoors and the conditions are optimal you might sit there but keeping the minimum safety distance (2 Mts. / 6.56 Ft.)
- Call the shop/restaurant before heading off and ask them if they have tables outside of the restaurant and ask them if they keep the minimum distance.
- If the restaurant/shop is not serving customers in the restaurant, ask them if they can prepare for takeaway. Indeed, it’s not the same but remember that it’s about helping the business buying their food. If they offer takeaway(some of them have already started doing so) you could then go somewhere else and eat it. I know this is not ideal but it’s about solutions and options to help businesses.
- If you are going to visit a region that is famous for its local products (fruits, vegetables, bread, cheese, ham, sausage, milk, wine, beer, jams, honey) find out if the farms or shops are opened to the public. In some countries, local shops are not opened during weekends. However, you might want to email them or give them a call during the week and ask them to open during weekends so they can sell their products not only to you but to others. You could then spread the word among your friends and on social media to help that local shop sell their products.
- As long as possible “visit” as many local places as possible and consume local products because they will help farmers and small business that used to rely on big supermarkets or village fairs to sell their products.
- If you find a farm that allows you to go and pick vegetables and fruits on your own remember to keep the safety distance in case there are other customers and be as clean as possible.
- Last but not least, remember to always clean your hands if possible before entering the shop or collecting the take away food. Do not expect for country restaurants or shops to stock cleaning products because most of them have been trying to cut cost. It is also a nice gesture from you as a customer to carry with you cleaning hand gel or wipes (and do not forget to bin them in the right container after using them) and help the restaurant or shop owner to keep their products and facilities COVID-19 free.
Bar, Farms and Shop Owners
- First of all, the good news is that there is a way out of the tunnel but you will have to make changes in the way you carry out your business.
- Keep in mind that the economy is not as it once was and that most customers won’t have the same purchase power and many might be furloughed or unemployed without a regular monthly wage.
- Understand that if you sell high-end gourmet products you might need to offer those products at a lower rate or offer financing when possible, especially if your products are near-expiry-date. Indeed, this is not possible in every situation, but if possible think about a way to make it happen.
- Most businesses need to pass a sanitary inspection and if in the past you took this lightly, now it is the time to take it seriously, not only because of your own safety but because of your potential customers and the people they will get in touch with after coming to your shop, collecting the product and leaving. When possible let customers wash their hands or at least provide hand-gel, if you cannot provide this inform customers in as many channels (social media, website, newspaper ad, road sign) as possible. In that way the customers can prepare themselves before coming to your place.
- Look for ways to offer delivery and if you can offer free-delivery even better. Perhaps you can get a shipping deal with another nearby shop to share delivering costs. Another option is to join together and offer bundles or products. One last option is to offer delivery days based on location: for example: if your shop is located in the Pyrenees you could drive down to Barcelona on Mondays and to Tarragona on Wednesdays. In that way you could deliver the orders without relying on courier services and if there any customers on the way also deliver the products and kill two birds with one stone. At the moment, petrol (gas) prices are low so this is a good time to do so. Sure, this is only possible if you have own a car.
- Bar and restaurant owners will really need to start thinking of “takeaway” options. By doing so, you could cook and sell the food you have purchased and have stocked. At the same time you could start buying products from the region to help others recover as well.
- If you do not have a social media profile now it is a good time to do start one. Share your opening and closing times, share the menus in advance and reply to potential customers as soon as possible. If possible share all information in as many languages as possible, remember that you have people from different nationalities living in your country and some might have the money to spend but might not speak the local language and you could be missing a good business opportunity and maybe a returning customer.
Farms and Local Producers
We have seen that most countries around the world have closed their borders for safety reasons and that has prevented thousands of temporary workers from coming to pick up fruit and vegetable. This is a great opportunity for anyone who is into farming or getting physical to do something different over the weekend or during their holidays. Why not asking the farmers in your region if you can come and collect vegetables and fruits and you pay them accordingly. Getting physical after being at home for so long will be a good thing for our bodies and appreciate the moment when we collect vegetables and fruits is priceless.
Yes we still have supermarkets but they are big chains and even though they do buy vegetables and fruits from local farms, there are still plenty of farms that are not able to sell their products because they used to supply restaurants or shops that are now closed. I understand that this is not for everyone but it’s one way to help the economy and your local farmer. At the same time, think about the satisfaction of making a healthy salad with veggies hand-picked by yourself.
Every country and every region within your country has farm and local producers associations. Unfortunately not every association has information available in different languages but you can always use google translate in case you want to get information from those sites.
It Is Possible – Together We Can Do It
Remember the next coming months are going to be hard but it does not mean that they will be impossible. On the contrary, they are exciting times and adaption to the new times are paramount if you want to succeed.
Get ready to jump on the bus, train, car, motorbike and explore your country and help each other while enjoying all those beautiful places our countries offer us.
Let’s prove to each other that together we can do it.