With the world in a panic, Cheltenham races stood strong and so did the businesses in the town. Is it a true testament to British spirit and the normality needed in the current pandemic? Or was it an awful decision pushed by greed and money?
Local businesses were packed to the rafters for the whole of the week. The concept of continuing the week in spite of the virus is admirable but also can be seen as reckless. However short term, pubs and bars were filled and money takings were not affected, Wetherspoons took target sales with ease.
Cash taken over the counters is over 100,000,000 sterling pounds. This can keep some businesses going for a whole year, no matter how small a slice of the earnings they take.
Many were worried about the impact the coronavirus could have on the festival and the economy, but pub manager Carolyn Betty believes there hasn’t been an effect:
“We seem to have the same amount of people coming in. We are at full capacity by ten o’clock. The sales are level as last year, but we were warned that it could affect us, but it hasn’t.”
The idea of cancelling the festival was discussed, this would have killed a lot of businesses. Taking 100,000,000 pounds out of a town could have a devastating effect from the highest level to the workers who gain extra hours through the week.
This would also ruin the preparation that companies would have put into for the races. Betty spoke about the hard work that has to go in to make the week a success:
“The organisation starts about a month prior, so the staff know what’s happening and what is expected of them.”
However, attendances at the race course would suggest there was a small effect on business as they were collectively 14,873 lower than last year’s record 266,557.
The races are a very unique opportunity for students as well, to be offered 40 hours in a week without it interfering with studies is a great chance to earn what could be crucial money in allowing independence for themselves financially.
From my own perspective the money I’ve earned is a real boost of income. The atmosphere in the pub was electric and I think this sort of event is exactly what the countries morale needed, but I do understand the worry, in a sense, the hangover of what the races now is becoming a reality.
The consequences of the races will be shown in the coming weeks. There are worries in Ireland in particular as there will be mass travelling back to the country and the chances of someone having caught the virus over the festival are high. Was the money worth the risk?
Businesses will argue that if the government didn’t call it off then there’s no reason to panic and it’s a great way to earn money. Concerned members of the public will say that it was an unnecessary risk. No doubt, all will be unveiled in the coming weeks.
There is no doubt though, for the economy, for the businesses, for the workers. Race week has been a success and the virus didn’t stop the money flowing across the town. Business was certainly booming in Cheltenham.