For hospitality workers affected by coronavirus pandemic, economic reopening can’t come soon enough
MIAMI –– Although Florida has slowly started reopening after weeks of lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic — with swarms of people heading to the state’s beaches — places like vacation-city Miami remain a ghost town.
For suffering hospitality workers who once manned the hotels and bars throughout the city, the economic reopening of the state cannot come soon enough. Many are still awaiting unemployment checks – nearly four weeks after their jobs were slashed by the state’s COVID-19 measures.
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Miami bartender Valentino Longo told Fox News he joined the Four Seasons Hotel in Bar Harbour team three years when it first opened. Now, he is out of work and has been waiting weeks for an unemployment check.
“I am ready because it’s been over a month and a half that I have been home and it’s getting a little bit too much,” Longo said. “Everyone from the servers to the bartenders and the bar backs, we have all been furloughed. We are not getting paid, unfortunately. All of us did ask for unemployment… and are just waiting for an answer.”
Dana Young, the president of Visit Florida, the state’s official tourism agency, told Fox News that when the coronavirus pandemic struck Florida, the hospitality industry was “decimated.” And the toughest challenges are still ahead for some.
“If they have to hire new people, if they have lost some of their original workers, the lag in on-boarding new workers is going to be difficult,” Young added.
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According to the American Hotel and Lodging Association, hotels across the country have already lost more than $18 billion in revenue.
Real-estate investor Todd Rosenberg said the hospitality reboot depends on how quickly hotels can convince tourists to return.
“The hospitality industry was one of the first to be hit in the most severe fashion and we’ll probably be one of the last to come back when the economy starts to recover and when the market starts to open,” he said. “Everybody wants to get reopened. Everybody wants to have business come back. We need to do it in a safe, controlled fashion.”
The pandemic has changed the way people will “forever see the world around us,” Young said.
“And so, while the hospitality industry will always be welcoming to guests and visitors and will, I believe, will rebound. I think that it’s going to have a different face,” she said.
She said changes, large and small, will be seen in the industry.
“I don’t know that we will ever see that little buzzer at a restaurant that tells you your table is ready or your food is ready because of all the people that touch that,” she said. “I think it’s just little things that are going to be different.”
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Rosenberg said hotel owners need to be up and fully running by August. Otherwise, they may reach their financial breaking point.
“There is a lot of planning that’s going on behind the scenes where we’re trying to maximize our time right now to make sure that, for instance, our hotels are properly positioned to start accepting customers in a post-COVID world and pre-vaccine world as well,” he said. “Things like split screens at the front reception desk, removing the buffet and making it a room service option. Housekeeping will become a room service option, partnering with Lysol companies so that we’re able to provide lots of hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies in our properties. Things of that nature are all being thought about right now as we look to hopefully open and accept customers, but still keep them very safe.”
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Longo said he’s looking forward to getting back behind the bar.
“I can’t wait to be back to work,” Longo said. “I can’t wait to see my regular guests, and mostly I can’t wait to make cocktails.”
Elina Shirazi joined Fox News in 2018 as a multimedia reporter based in Miami.
Source : Elina Shirazi Link