Corona Virus is now a Pandemic–What That Means for Service Industry
Everything you need to know about Corona Virus in the hospitality industry can be found here.
UPDATE: JERSEY CITY IS THE FIRST TO PLACE A CURFEW ON BARS AND RESTAURANTS IN THE US. SEVERE RESTRICTIONS ARE IN PLACE FOR ITALIAN INDUSTRY.
The World Health Organization has declared that Coronavirus is now a pandemic, meaning that it is spreading beyond expectation.
In an article by The Guardian, we are told that, “Once a pandemic is declared, it becomes more likely that community spread will eventually happen, and governments and health systems need to ensure they are prepared for that.”
There is no particular threshold for what is or is not a pandemic. The label doesn’t mean that a certain number of people have been infected or died, simply that health officials have lost track of who is sick across the planet, so more people are theoretically at risk.
If you’ve been around long enough to remember swine-flu, you know that a lot of people were very concerned about getting it. That disease was also declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization.
The concern here, as professor David Isaacs of the Departement of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology at the Children’s Hospital in Westmead Australia puts it, is that, “Pandemic means ‘all the people’ (pan = all; demos = people) and the implication of an outbreak of [a pandemic] is that it will spread rapidly through a non‐immune population and infect most if not all of them. If you take out the ‘dem’, the word pandemic becomes panic.”
We have seen over the last couple of weeks, that people are buying every last roll of toilet paper they can get their hands on, even prompting an Australian newspaper to print extra sheets of paper—just in case.
Steven Taylor, clinical psychologist and author of “The Psychology of Pandemics,” explains, “When people are told something dangerous is coming, but all you need to do is wash your hands, the action doesn’t seem proportionate to the threat. Special danger needs special precautions.”
Already, dozens of events and gatherings have been canceled because of the fear of Coronavirus. In an article dripping with fear, The Atlantic even went as far as saying, “Social distancing is the only way to stop the coronavirus. We must start immediately.”
Government agencies are seemingly encouraging this kind of thinking, with states like Colorado declaring a state of emergency, specifically targeting hospitality workers as those who are at risk of speading Coronavirus.
If the general public feels the same way, the effect on the hospitality industry would be viscerally felt. A study of Mexico’s hospitality industry after the swine flu showed us that economic activity dropped by as much as 5.5% in some areas and was as low as 1% in others.
While it is difficult to quantify exactly how much business dropped because of swine flu, we can use those numbers as a base line for expectation in the coming weeks.
If those numbers hold for the US, we could see a loss of $80B in 2020. Which would represent 5% if the hospitality economy.
Early estimates placed an end to the Covid-19 scare in May, with a return to normal economic production. If there is anything to take away from the 24 hours since the announcement, it’s that the time to prepare is now.
Hospitality employees should save as much money as they can, and keep saving it. Even if you find yourself on unemployment insurance, you need to keep saving.
Internationally, President Trump has placed a temporary ban on travel coming from Europe in to the United States, meaning that tens of thousands of travelers will no longer be coming into the country, staying at the hotels, or frequenting taverns.
As far as projected losses go, you can find some of those predictions here. Suffice it to say, it’s going to be hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue across the country and it looks like it will get worse as states like Ohio declare a ban on all mass gatherings.
Solutions are sketchy at best, as lawmakers in Washington continue to play politics before actually passing any legislation that will help Americans recover from the financial impact of the outbreak.
Several ideas are on the table, including cutting payroll taxes, increasing access to unemployment insurance, allowing tax filing extensions and providing for paid sick leave.
Some of those rules and solutions are expected to become more concrete on Thursday, as Congress meets one final time before taking a week long break.
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