5 things to know: 21 December 2020
5 things to know: 21 December 2020
21 DECEMBER 2020 11:00 AM

From the desks of the Hotel News Now editorial staff:

  • New Tier 4 restriction adds pressure to UK hoteliers
  • Congress set to vote on second stimulus package
  • Hoteliers across globe find unique ways to celebrate Christmas
  • Singapore quarantine hotel might have spread virus
  • US air travel continues to rise

New Tier 4 restriction adds pressure to U.K. hoteliers: Along with to two lockdowns, a tiered structure of restrictions—including Tier 4 restriction for most-affected areas—across the United Kingdom is making for a difficult year for more than 75,000 hospitality businesses, reports Hotel News Now’s Terence Baker.

Kate Nicholls, CEO of hotel-industry membership association UKHospitality, on a 17 December webinar titled “Leading through revival” said that restrictions by the government underline why it is crucial for hoteliers to lend support in lobbying efforts so government officials understand the pressures hoteliers and other hospitality providers are under.

“Hopefully if we continue banging the drum and sounding the trumpet, then the walls of Jericho might fall down, and the government might finally look at doing some additional measures to support the hospitality industry. This looks like quite a bleak week for hospitality,” she said.

Congress set to vote on second stimulus package: Congressional leaders announced Sunday they reached a long sought-after deal for second round of pandemic relief, The New York Times reports. The $900-billion stimulus package “would send immediate aid to Americans and businesses to help them cope with economic devastation of the pandemic and fund distribution of vaccines.”

Parts of the plan, which would be less than half the size of the $2.2 trillion stimulus package passed in March, would include providing $600 stimulus payments to Americans who earn up to $75,000 annually as well as continuing and expanding benefits for gig workers and freelancers. The measure would also provide more than $284 billion for businesses and revive the Paycheck Protection Program.

Final votes on the package are expected as early as Monday to approve it and clear it for President Donald Trump to sign.

Hoteliers across globe find unique ways to celebrate Christmas: From Zoom calls with Santa and elephants in Thailand to an “Elf”-themed lobby display, hotels around the world are finding creative ways to spread holiday cheer with guests, reports HNN’s Danielle Hess.

The Antara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort in Chiang Rai, Thailand, has partnered with Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation allowing people to Zoom with “Santa and his Eles.”

For a complete slideshow of holiday decorations and celebrations, click here.

Singapore quarantine hotel might have spread virus: The Mandarin Orchard hotel in Singapore, which housed recreational guests and quarantined travelers, is suspected of spreading COVID-19 after finding signs of past infections among 11 staff members, Bloomberg reports. The hotel is now scaling back operations.

The Singapore Ministry of Health said on Monday serological tests were done for 571 of the hotel’s staff, and 11 of them were found to have past infections. This raises concerns “over pockets of undetected transmission in a country that’s largely managed to stamp out local cases,” Bloomberg writes.

“This followed its disclosure on Saturday that 13 cases of infection among travelers quarantining at the Mandarin Orchard had a ‘high genetic similarity’ despite the patients arriving from 10 different countries, raising the suspicion that the hotel has become a site of transmission,” the article states.

U.S. air travel continues to rise: The Associated Press reports 1.07 million people have passed through TSA checkpoints at U.S. airports “in each of the past two days in a sign that the public health pleas to avoid travel are being ignored, despite an alarming surge in COVID-19 cases.”

This is the first time U.S. airports counted more than 1 million travelers since the end of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. More travel is expected to occur as Christmas nears.

“U.S. public health officials fear it will lead to more superspreader events as people unwittingly transmit the virus to family and friends while gathering indoors for holiday celebrations. Health officials note the upcoming holiday period from Christmas to New Year’s Day covers a longer timespan than the Thanksgiving break,” the AP reports.

Compiled by Dana Miller.

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