Hospitality industry braces for winter months as coronavirus pandemic continues

Published: Sep. 14, 2020 at 6:25 PM EDT
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STATE, Mich. (WJRT)-(09/14/20)-The hospitality industry was hit hard at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

With restaurants and hotels forced to reinvent themselves to stay afloat.

For many that meant taking tables outdoors.

“It’s the second largest employer in the state of Michigan. And a lot of those jobs that were able to be brought back, a lot of those are at risk,” said president and CEO of the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association, Justin Winslow.

Winslow said many restaurants and hotels have been able to sustain during the coronavirus pandemic due to the expansion of outdoor seating.

As the summer months wind down, that will come to an end-- leaving many struggling to survive the winter months.

“I got up and left this morning it was 49 degrees when I left my house. That doesn’t feel like outdoor dining to me. And so as that season changes what it a restaurant going to do without decreased efforts on the back end?” he said.

According to MRLA, nearly 5,000 restaurants and hotels are at risk of permanent closure this winter.

There are 200,000 fewer employees in hospitality industry.

62% restaurant operators report higher operating costs since the beginning of the pandemic.

74% restaurant operators don’t expect pre-pandemic sales to return.

Its why MRLA has launched a campaign to help save the industry as the country and state continues to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

“This is day one of new communication strategy and how we can find a way to basically keep people safe, but to not allow this industry to be completed decimated,”

Winslow said they are working with the state to find a way to expand capacity levels and reassure the public about the industry.

“Knowing that this industry, which has proven so far that it can safely operate under the confines of COVID-19, they need to be given that opportunity to greater degree this fall and winter,” Winslow said.

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