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There’s considerable anticipation, excitement and an almost palpable national holding of breath that after such an incredibly long and difficult 17 months since our first lockdown, it finally looks as though we could soon see a complete re-opening of our society! (And … exhale.) Importantly for our industry, this would include the complete re-opening of the hospitality, event and night-life sectors.
Pilot events have been staged successfully and the noise on social media is loud and clear: people need to get out and about, let off steam and for a large cohort, this certainly includes being able to get back into nightclubs and bars. Weddings, events and other social gatherings are also seeing a gradual easing of restrictions on numbers and social-distancing requirements. This is not only excellent news insofar as our Government has a deserved ongoing confidence in the success of the vaccine programme, but this is, of course, good news for our businesses and livelihoods as the relaxation of restrictions gives people additional reasons to be TAN!
There can be no denying that regular, responsible and moderate exposure – whether in the sunshine or a tanning bed – could and I daresay should be part of the solution to yet another health crisis we are facing.
This will be particularly welcome news for salons as restrictions on overseas travel to all but a handful of holiday destinations currently remain in place. And even for those countries where travel has the green light, the cost of COVID tests and potential need for self-isolation on the return from holiday puts travelling to such destinations out of reach for many wannabe holidaymakers.
However, thinking positively (as I always try to do), the pent-up demand for a long overdue holiday is very likely to see an extension to our traditional tanning season as more holiday destinations reach the “green for go” travel list.
Unfortunately, amongst many other challenging outcomes, the impact of the pandemic is well-documented as having a significantly negative impact on the well-being and mental health state of many of us. As I am sure you will already know, exposure to sunlight is thought to increase the brain’s release of serotonin which is associated with boosting mood and helping a person feel calm and focussed. Surely, there can be no coincidence that this is yet another reason why people are craving sunshine.
The UK’s Centre for Mental Health has estimated that the pandemic and the necessary steps the Government has taken to save lives will have profound and lasting effects on the public’s mental health. They estimate at least half a million more people will experience a mental health difficulty this year as a result. It was a significant surprise to me to learn that ill mental health has an economic and social cost of £119 billion ($163 billion) a year in England alone. Compare this to the annual National Health Service (NHS) budget in England for 2020/21 which is £129.9 billion ($178 billion) and it is clear this is an overwhelming problem that needs addressing.
Whilst I am certainly not suggesting that sunshine is a panacea for all health issues, there surely can be no denying that regular, responsible and moderate exposure – whether in the sunshine or on a tanning bed in a professional salon – could and I daresay should be part of the solution to yet another health crisis we are facing.
In the tanning industry since 1982, Gary is Managing Director of the UK subsidiary of Ergoline, and runs Ergoline Plus, the exclusive distributor for a wide range of sunless products and spray systems. He is also Chairman of the Media Committee for the UK’s Sunbed Association & a European Sunlight Association member.
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