Dec 16, 2021 - Economy

Reopening plans sputter

Open sign

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

An upswing in COVID-19 cases and persistent fears of spread are puncturing reopening plans — just as they were taking off.

Driving the news: Producers have canceled theater performances, both on and off Broadway.

Why it matters: Businesses hardest hit during the pandemic can’t catch a break. 

  • Service, leisure and entertainment sectors had started to reopen during a two-month dip in cases in late spring and early summer. They then had to immediately contend with the rise of the Delta variant. And now, they have to manage through the Omicron variant.

The whiplash has barely shifted consumer confidence, but it's caused a reversal of policies for businesses — notably indoor mask mandates. It's also prompted new policies, like Philadelphia’s recent indoor dining vaccine requirement.

  • The effect of new cases on bottom lines is immediate — like hundreds of thousands of dollars of lost profits for a week of "Mrs. Doubtfire" shows, the New York Times reports.
  • Rescheduled shows put on by Live Nation have driven up no-shows from 12% in 2019 to 17% this year, per WSJ.

On the flip side: At-home stocks are still getting clobbered, as investors largely see an adjustment to a new "mixed reality," says Anastasia Amoroso, chief investment strategist at iCapital Network.

  • Some businesses will operate under the assumption that a new normal will likely involve periodic outbreaks and temporary mitigation measures, she adds.
  • "The toolkit to manage COVID is here today, like it wasn't before," Amoroso says.

The bottom line: "We're still on the path forward out of this pandemic. But it's not going to be a straight line to get to the finish line," says Amoroso.

Go deeper