How The New Indoor Mask Guidance Could Impact The Economy


Photo: Maksim Chernyshev / EyeEm / Getty Images

The rise in the Delta variant across the US prompted health officials to reinstate an indoor mask guidance. Now, experts are concerned about what the regression will mean for the economic recovery progress. 

According to a report by The Washington Post, immediate dangers to economic progress seem “manageable,” though some companies are changing their plans to return to in-person work and are concerned about plans in the future. 

“I sense a lot more anxiety than a month ago,” one executive who spoke anonymously to The Post, said. “But I’m not sensing panic, and I’m not sensing a change in business plans.” 

The CDC’s latest recommendation calls for people in areas where community transmission rates are high to wear a mask indoors, regardless of vaccination status. The guidance doesn’t provide national uniformity that many companies prefer, The Post noted, adding to uncertainty to return to work plans. 

Back to the Office Plans Delayed or On Hold

Google announced Wednesday (July 28) that it would require employees to prove they’re vaccinated when they return to offices in October. The company delayed its plan to return to the office by a month due to the surge in Delta variant cases.

It should be noted that many workers –– including those in the food industry, healthcare workers, manufacturers, and more –– have been at work throughout the pandemic.

Uncertainty in the Travel and Hospitality Industries

For the travel and hospitality industry –– already hard-hit by last year’s lockdown, the rise in cases and new guidance has created shaky new demand for services. One travel agent told The Post cancellations have ticked upward over the last month as hospitalizations rise across the country.

“People are rescheduling trips, canceling trips, saying they’re concerned about kids that are not vaccinated,” Jonathan de Araujo, owner of Vacationeer travel agency, told the outlet. He reported that bookings had just started to rebound following last year’s dramatic drop. 

“The majority are still taking a wait-and-see approach, but we can definitely feel things starting to change.”

Wedding plans are trending to move outdoors and go online in response to the Delta variant, the report stated. Guest lists are also being cut down with couples fearing their special day may turn into a superspreader event. Those trends have direct implications for hotel and venue bookings, flights, vendors, and more.

DIY Projects Helped Steady Sales

Some home improvement companies, however, have recorded little to no change in sales over the last year as many completed home projects on their own.

Sherwin-Williams reported residential paint sales weren’t affected by the surge in the virus. Stanley Black & Decker reported its sales might even do better.

Masks at Schools could Mean Parents at Work

The CDC’s recommendation for masks in the upcoming school year, too, has many implications as parents, particularly Black women, make plans to return to the workforce in the coming weeks. Millions of women left the workforce to take care of children at home last year.

Officials on the local, state, and federal levels are pushing for vaccines to help curb the uptick in new COVID-19 cases and prevent transmission of the Delta variant, especially as millions of students plan their return to full-time in-person learning.

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