In an industry that already has very tight margins, as well as employees who do not have access to benefits including paid sick leave, health insurance, childcare, and rely on tips, the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the hospitality industry in a very hard way.
As information starts to come in from many different angles, small businesses are doing what they can to decipher that information and allow their businesses to continue to run smoothly. Here are some facts:
- Update March 16, 2020. NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will sign an executive bill limiting all NYC food establishments to takeout and delivery only. This will go into effect Tuesday March 17, 2020, at 9am. This move will not only limit the spread of coronavirus, but thousands of hospitality workers are now without a job.
- NYC has advised that those that are sick stay home. This has shed light on paid sick time for employees. Since labor is scarce as is, many employees are encouraged to continue coming to work, not just for the business, but for their own paychecks as well.
- Schools are closing. This has highlighted the fact that many of these employees who have children can not afford childcare, and schools closing prevents them from going to their jobs.
- The elderly should not be leaving their homes during this time. For many restaurants, this is their clientele.
- Travel on the subway should be limited. This affects many people, from customers traveling to restaurants, to employees going to work.
- Large gatherings are currently banned or are scheduled to close. For many hospitality establishments, their proximity to the theater district, sports arenas, concert venues, and others, are feeling major effects of not having customer traffic and tourism. This rule also majorly affects nonprofits, whose spring fundraisers are cancelled or moved to later in the year.
- NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio has mandated that all businesses with less than a 500 person capacity only run at 50%. For those that break this rule, they will have to face a fine. The thought behind this is that it reduces close confinement of people in small spaces, hopefully reducing the spread of COVID-19. However, if businesses are being forced to run at 50% capacity, their rents and other bills should be cut in half too. Not doing so will just lead to layoffs as well as force some establishments to close their doors.
- Some restaurants are switching to a delivery only model. This affects many people, including those that rely on tips at the establishments, and not to mention the third party delivery services that are benefiting from this. We are also not providing delivery drivers with Proper Protection Equipment (PPE), health insurance, or paid-sick leave.
- No hospitality establishment wants to be ground zero. All businesses are taking precautions as to employee hand-washing, gloves, and sanitizing surfaces. Want to know a secret? They've always done that as regulated by the NYC Health Department. Many hospitality establishments are as clean, if not cleaner, than some healthcare facilities. Hospitality establishments have always taken precautions as to not get their clientele sick.
The next few months are going to be a very trying time for hospitality establishments. Have trust in professionals and do what you can to help support local businesses.