An expert’s opinion: Food for thought during the COVID-19 crisis

An expert’s opinion: Food for thought during the COVID-19 crisis

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Daniel During, owner of Thomas Klein International, a Dubai-based hospitality and F&B consultancy firm, shares his thoughts about the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on the industry.

I was asked to write something about the impact of Coronavirus on the F&B and hospitality industry. And honestly, I don’t think anyone knows exactly what’s going to happen, nor the total effect that this may have.  We know that this is a developing story. We know the direction it is going, but no one knows how the story will end.  

So, I decided I rather speak about us, the humans, the carriers, the victims, but also the saviors, the ones who can kill and cure… us.

Information

I guess we are all well informed people and we all know pretty much everything there is to know about Coronavirus and COVID-19.

We also have our factual knowledge spiced with urban myths and internet charlatanry. These tib-bits of information include ‘if you can hold your breath for 10 seconds you are not carrying the virus’, or ‘gargle with vinegar and you will kill the virus and it will not spread to your lungs’.

I think it is important, yet embarrassing to have to point out, to fact check what we read before we:

a. act on it

b. pass it on.

So many of us, myself included, are often too quick to right click and repost without taking the time to check that what we are circulating is factual.

As if managing information (and misinformation) was not already a huge risk, the society that we live in today loves to amplify issues. 

Consequently, if I may give one piece of advice on this subject, it is always imperative to cross check any information you read against at least three sources, making sure that these sources are reputable, originating from an official channel and not just a pretty picture signed ‘university of xyz’.

Self-discipline

Big word. 

But zero implementation or responsibility. 

It is great to see that in an effort to minimize exposure of their employees to the virus, many responsible companies are declaring a work-from-home policy. Which in theory indeed minimizes exposure if the employee certainly remains at home and interacts as little as possible with other individuals on a face-to-face basis. 

But in reality, restaurants and cafes are packed with patrons working on their laptops. 

Like, really?? 

What have we done? 

We don’t go to our offices in an effort not to expose ourselves and others, but we then go and sit in a cafe full of strangers, consuming food and beverages handled by more strangers? 

Have we not stopped to think that this is going to exponentially increase our risk to get infected and exponentially increase the risk of us infecting other people if we are carriers of the virus but asymptomatic? 

Where is our common sense? Where is our sense of responsibility towards ourselves and the society around us?

Can we stop being childish, get a grip on our actions, accept a sense of social responsibility and stay put at home? 

Respect

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So here we go, we are healthy youngsters that don’t really care much about any virus because we know we will recuperate easily. 

But have we stopped to think that we may be killing the seniors and weaker around us?  

Have we thought for a moment that even if we are asymptomatic, we can be contagious and while the virus won’t do anything to us, it may, and it will kill people around us?  

Have we ever stopped to think that there is no difference between us sitting in a cafe – with no certainty that we are not carriers – next to an elderly, and a person in the USA who in the 80’s had HIV and knowingly passed on the virus?

Strong words? Surely they are. But think about it once again, before you get outraged. 

In critical moments as the ones we are now experiencing, we carry not just our destiny in our hands but that of the people around us. Think about it before any and every action.

Relationships

So, you are not shaking hands any longer? Ok, I agree it reduces virus exchange, but… mmm… humanly speaking, personally, I respectfully disagree.   

I keep shaking hands using alcohol-based sanitizer before and after. No virus on earth will take away from me being human.

I admit that I had instances where I look at my friend who has just landed and I ask myself, should we hug or not? Has she/he been exposed to the virus on this trip? 

And then I say: Hey! Hold your breath for a second, I hold mine, and we hug!

Safe? Not sure. 

Stupid? Probably very.

But they also say that hugs can heal feelings of isolation and loneliness and that holding a hug for at least twenty seconds before letting go will instantly boost oxytocin and serotonin levels, elevating your mood and raising your happiness scale (serotonin is known as the ‘feel good’ hormone). 

And at these moments of stress, the last thing we want is to isolate people and feel isolated, least our family and friends.

So, call me nuts and irresponsible, but while I isolate myself at my home, avoiding cafes nor attending busy events, I will still hug the people I love, because, at least for me, our relationships with our friends, colleagues, family and fellow humans is what is most crucial today.

Because I will not let the widespread panic affect how I relate to others.

So, if I may say, to the world over, not just to Italians, Chinese and Spaniards, but to all humanity, friends and family everywhere…

We will wake up one day and everything will be behind us…

The one important thing: keep your humane-ness high. 

Because, as Prince Calaf would say: Al alba vincero!

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