People in our industry are getting hit hard by the Coronavirus crisis as major restaurant cities like Los Angeles, New York City and San Francisco order the closures of bars and in-house dining, followed by 23 states, and in other cities and states restaurants are just empty and struggling to stay open even with delivery and take-out. It’s a crisis our industry can ill afford – an industry where wafer thin profit margins, living paycheck to paycheck, struggling with stress and mental health issues, and not having health insurance – are already the norm. An industry that employs more than 16 million people.
I can’t help but feel sad that hospitality is taking such a huge hit, and asking myself if this reaction isn’t an over-reaction. Time will tell if these measures were truly necessary to save a significant number of lives, considering the devastating long-term impact these measures are taking on the lives of hospitality workers (and those whose business relies on hospitality thriving, like events, distributors, small farmers, wine-makers, and on and on the list goes).
If this isn’t all being caused by pandemic panic, if ordering the closure of people’s livelihoods is truly necessary, then what’s being ordered to help these same people, this industry as a whole?
We’re all wondering, will the government (Federal, States and Cities) step in and bail out the industry and its people?
Will immediate funds be made available to business owners and unemployed workers, beyond just unemployment (which is pretty damn low if you were living mostly on tips and earning the Federal min-wage of $2.13/hr!).
Will credit reporting agencies be ordered (not just asked) to hold off on reporting negative points for people who have no paycheck and miss credit card payments or rent or mortgage payments?
Will the many workers who don’t have health insurance be able to get the care they need if they do fall ill with COVID-19? Will clinics, hospitals and testing sites be ordered to help the uninsured if they get sick or need coronavirus testing?
Will banks be ordered to temporarily suspend overdraft charges? Will credit card companies be ordered to waive late fees and suspend interest rates?
Will grants be made available immediately? Not loans, but grants. After all, even a no-interest and no-fee loan is still money that workers and business owners will have to pay back when they eventually do get back to work, and starting off in debt when you get back to work isn’t much help in the long term.
If governments can order up economic devastation for what will eventually amount to hundreds of thousands of people, will those same government bodies order up ways to make sure the unemployed and business owners are properly provided for in this extreme time of need?
Tens of thousands of hospitality workers are out of a job for who knows how long, and they have no idea if their job will be there for them when things return to normalcy because many restaurants will have to close permanently. The number of unemployed hospitality workers could potentially reach into the millions, when you consider that this is an industry that employs roughly sixteen-million people as a conservative estimate.
Beyond the devastating economic hit, there’s the psychological impact. Of all the people I can’t picture sitting at home without work, it’s people in our industry. We’re high-energy, super social, used to working on our feet at a fast pace, six, even seven days a week if necessary. Our jobs are more than just work, they’re a lifestyle.
Staying home and not socializing is the exact opposite of the hospitality life. It’s just not who we are, and it’s going to take a serious psychological toll on top of the financial toll. Sure, it may feel good to get a break from the grind for a couple weeks, but beyond that, and without a paycheck or financial safety net, it’s not going to feel so great for so long.
Somehow or other, in so many different ways, we’re all facing some serious shit thanks to this bastard of a virus. And we’re all trying to keep our cool as each new day brings more bad news, and as we feel increasingly more powerless to control the ever-changing circumstances.
Thankfully, many organizations are stepping up and trying to help our industry and the individuals who work in it to cope with the financial hardship. Here’s CulEpi’s growing list of financial resources you can check out and hopefully find some assistance, and also lend some assistance if you’re in a position to do so! We’ll be adding new resources to our list every day so pass it along and check back. And if you hear about a resource that’s not on our list, please tell us!
CulEpi was founded as the first media platform where industry voices come together to make a positive impact. We’re a community that wants to impact the world for the better. So in addition to providing a growing list of financial resources for the industry, we’re also reaching out to our contributors, colleagues, readers and friends, and we invite all of you to share your story in solidarity as we struggle through the coronavirus crisis and its negative impacts on the hospitality industry.
We can’t join in solidarity in person, but we can share our voices in solidarity, we can share financial resources we hear about, we can share how we’re dealing, what we’re facing, and maybe even a funny story or two to get us through the day and reassure us that we aren’t alone, we are all in this together. As hard hit as we are, we still are one big global family that defines coming together, for after all, that is, and we are, hospitality.