5 things to know: 18 March 2020
5 things to know: 18 March 2020
18 MARCH 2020 9:28 AM

From the desks of the Hotel News Now editorial staff:

  • Marriott furloughs 'tens of thousands'
  • Chronicling the impacts of the coronavirus
  • White House seeks $1 trillion in economic aid
  • AHLA, USTA call for $150 billion in aid
  • COVID-19 disrupts a sacred American tradition: Spring break

Marriott furloughs “tens of thousands”: In a move that reflects the dire situation much of the hotel and broader travel industries are facing amid the spread of COVID-19, Marriott International has announced it is at least temporarily furloughing tens of thousands of workers across the globe, with many brand-managed properties already closed. The news was first reported by The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday but then confirmed directly with Marriott International officials.

As of now, furloughs have only taken place at the property level, although The Journal reports corporate cuts are “under discussion.” The company has roughly 130,000 employees across the U.S.

Here is the full text of the statement issued by Marriott:

“As travel restrictions and social distancing efforts around the world become more widespread, we are experiencing significant drops in demand at properties globally with an uncertain duration. We are adjusting global operations accordingly which has meant either reduction in hours or a temporary leave for many of our associates at our properties. Our associates will keep their health benefits during this difficult period and continue to be eligible for company- paid free short-term disability that provides income protection should they get sick. We are working quickly to mitigate the impact to our business while also focusing on assisting our associates, our guests and our owners. While the ultimate impact is difficult to predict at this time given the fluidity of the situation, we remain confident in our long-term prospects.”

Chronicling the impacts of the coronavirus: In the interest of how the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) has, and continues to, affect the hotel industry, Hotel News Now Editorial Director Stephanie Ricca compiled the major events where travel and the virus’ spread intersect.

The timeline, which will be updated periodically, starts with the declaration of a global health emergency and the U.S. imposing its first travel restrictions in January through Tuesday’s news of Marriott furloughs.

White House seeks $1 trillion in economic aid: Countries and governments are increasing their focus on stymying the economic fallout from the virus spread with things such as new shelter-in-place rules. Along those lines, The New York Times reports The White House is seeking a $1 trillion package to “blunt the financial fallout.”

That aid could include $250 billion in direct payouts to American citizens.

AHLA, USTA call for $150 billion in aid: With a dramatic drop off in demand for the hotel industry and travel broadly, officials with the American Hotel and Lodging Association and the U.S. Travel Association said an aid package including roughly $150 billion in relief for travel-related companies is needed to keep businesses afloat, HNN’s Dana Miller writes.

“Hotel occupancy has fallen to staggering levels not seen before, of somewhere between 10% and 20% in major markets nationwide,” said ALHA President and CEO Chip Rogers. “We would expect this would mean 140 million rooms or more could be empty in the next 30 days alone.”

Rogers—along with USTA President and CEO Roger Dow, Pebblebrook Hotel Trust chairman, President and CEO Jon Bortz, and The Hotel Group President and CEO Doug Dreher—met with President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence Tuesday to plead their case.

COVID-19 disrupts a sacred American tradition: Spring break: Calls for social distancing hasn’t stopped some young people from gathering in beach destinations during their annual spring break from college. So authorities at those destinations are trying to stop those gatherings themselves, Reuters reports. Miami Beach, for example, declared gatherings of more than 10 people illegal as it closed bars and restaurants.

Spring breakers are taking it in stride.

“It’s so weird, we didn’t think it was going to get this bad,” 22-year-old Drexel University student Jay Jones told Reuters as he walked Miami Beach. “At least I’m still in warm weather though, so whatever, I’ll just hang out in the hotel and flex. I’m staying for the rest of my trip.”

Compiled by Sean McCracken.

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