Over the many years RePlay’s covered the amusement machine industry, it has celebrated the anniversaries of numerous companies, running from “the alpha to the omega” of coin-op…from Atari to Venco…including Frank Seninsky’s Alpha-Omega itself. But there’s not a whole lot to celebrate with this first anniversary of the appearance of the Covid-19 virus that has visited the doors of numerous locations since last March in the off-again, on-again world of restrictions.
However, as readers know, things have begun a definite turnaround. Even the ever-cautious New York Times ran a headline, saying “The Virus In Retreat.” Educated estimates are that the majority of Americans will be vaccinated by late spring or early summer…and the belief among those in the know says these magic potions will also be effective against any known variant of the original strain.
Me, being a senior citizen-plus, got my first Pfizer shot in early February (note photo), and by the time this issue hits readers, shot #2 will also be digested. All that’s great, but those experts also note that vaccinations take second place to the more effective weapons being the tried-and-true masking, social distancing and avoidance of crowds, especially indoor crowds.
That last thing has direct bearing on the amusement industry’s hope for a speedy reopening of locations and therefore, of its very own existence, which depends on a respectable reappearance of players at indoor places like bars, restaurants and game rooms. In his pitch for a more generous financial supplement for small business owners, our new president Joe Biden famously said the virus has “slammed” bars and restaurants. Might as well have added game rooms to the mix.
But like politics itself, what affects the health of the amusement machine trade is mostly a local matter since it’s the states, counties and sometimes cities and towns that set the regulations of what can open, at how many hours a day along with restrictions on how many people will be allowed inside. Yes, far more liberal rules are coming down as the virus slowly retreats, so we won’t hear any thunderclap declaring an overnight reboot of the coin-op business. Just keep the trucks gassed up, the phone list of laid-off employees handy and your eyes glued to the media in your neck of the woods for any good news to come…we hope, because this has been a very fickle disease.