Congress is set to pass the largest bailout in history, the Four Seasons New York is offering free rooms to hospital workers, and the restaurant industry faces an uncertain and unprecedented future. All this and more in this week’s Five.
Congress set to pass largest bailout in history
The Senate passed a $2 trillion relief stimulus package on Wednesday night that aims to buoy the U.S. economy, with particular emphasis on retail and hotels. The bill states that any hotel, casino, or restaurant with 500 or fewer employees per physical location is eligible to receive a covered loan, which can be used for continued payroll or healthcare coverage for their workers, as well as rent or mortgage payments, BisNow reported. According to The New York Times, the fine print shows that President Trump’s companies may benefit from the bailout. Hotel owners that employ thousands of workers, such as those that Trump owns, will be eligible for small-business loans. The bill is expected to be signed by the president by the end of the week.
The industry aids in relief
With hotel occupancy in the U.S. down to just 30 percent, according to STR, there are suddenly a lot of empty rooms around the country going unused. NBC News reports that Four Seasons’ Midtown Manhattan property has offered to house medical personnel for free so workers can be closer to the hospitals they commute to every day. Several major New York hospitals, including Bellevue, NYU Langone, and Mt. Sinai, are within 30 blocks of the hotel.
At the same time, Port Washington, New York-based company WAC Lighting will donate 500,000 surgical masks to U.S. hospitals, primarily in the New York metropolitan area, the current epicenter of the outbreak in the U.S. According to the press release, the lighting manufacturer originally ordered the masks to be sent abroad to fight COVID-19, but instead chose to send them locally as needs arose. It’s one of many hospitality companies using their resources to serve the medical industry.
Restaurants face a serious depression
In an op-ed for The New York Times, a handful of notable chefs including Andrew Carmellini, Tom Colicchio, Danny Meyer, Missy Robbins, Marcus Samuelsson, and Adam Saper, ask “Will we have an America without restaurants?” Independent restaurants employ more than 10 million people, and with tens of thousands of restaurants closed nationwide, including more than 26,000 in New York alone, fears are mounting that many won’t survive the significant economic downturn the virus has caused. The editorial speculates that restaurants shuttering could have a detrimental impact all the way down the supply chain to farmers and importers. “A large majority of our colleagues—from dishwashers to porters to prep and line cooks—have spent their lives in the restaurant business,” they write. “They have nowhere else to go. We cannot let them down.”
STR points to grim days ahead for the hospitality industry
STR has released results for U.S. hotels from the week ending in March 21st, which points to a significant year-over-year decline in three key performance metrics across the industry. Occupancy dropped by more than 56.4 percent to 30.3 percent; average daily rate (ADR) decreased 30.2 percent to $93.41; and revenue per available room (RevPAR) declined by almost 70 percent to just $28.32. The RevPAR decline, according to Jan Freitag, STR’s senior vice president of lodging insights, is worse than those seen during 9/11 and the financial crisis. “Seven of 10 rooms were empty around the country. That average is staggering on its own, but it’s tougher to process when you consider that occupancy will likely fall further,” he says. The sharpest declines were seen in San Francisco, New York, and New Orleans. As a result, Lodging Magazine reports that the U.S. is likely to lose 5.9 million travel-related jobs by the start of May.
Tell us your story
How is the COVID-19 pandemic affecting you and your business? If you want to share and potentially have your story told on our website, fill out this brief survey. Also, be sure to read a note from our editor in chief Stacy Shoemaker Rauen. She writes that it’s more important than ever to come together as a hospitality community, especially as we all try to push forward and navigate a new normal in these frightening, unprecedented times.