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Hotels and restaurants take huge hit because of COVID-19

Many employees have been temporarily laid off because of COVID-19 closures

YORK COUNTY, Pa. — Hotels and restaurants have taken a hit because of the COVID-19 crisis. Many employees temporarily laid off.

Some industry experts are worried about the unknown. They said employees need proper government financial assistance to be able to come out on the other side.

The halls are empty at the Wyndham Garden in West Manchester Township.

"It's eerie, it's quiet," Lisa Green, the general manager, said.  I never want to see this hotel this quiet again. I keep pulling into the parking lot and seeing a big empty lot."

The restaurant has been shut down. The pool and fitness center are closed. A majority of their staff, dozens of employees, have been laid off. 

"For the first couple of days, the phones were ringing off the hook," Green said. "Not for good reasons. All for cancellations."

Which is why it's no surprise the hotel is down a $100,000 in sales for March alone. And it's not just the hotel business.

"Most restaurants operate on a margin that's somewhere in the 5-9 percent range," John Longstreet, President & CEO of the PA Restaurant and Lodging Association, said. They're not cash rich businesses and each meal they don't serve is a meal they can never serve."

Longstreet said there are 582,000 people in the restaurant and food service business in Pennsylvania.

"I think it's fair to say that with restaurants closed - upwards of 75% of those will be not working," Longstreet said.

He also says hotels don't break even unless they are at 50 percent room occupancy.

Right now the Wyndham Garden has about 25-30 guests staying there a night. It's a huge difference from the regular 100-130 guests.

 "So the first concern obviously is for the people," Longstreet said. "And that's what we're trying to focus on. And secondly to try and make sure that the businesses have the cash flow to survive this. So that when we get through this, the employees have a job to come back to. We're working to get the unemployment checks to them more quickly. And then we're of course trying to get things like small business loans and sales tax relief."

As for Green, she's trying to stay positive and remember that a lot of events will be rescheduled in the coming months - hopefully providing them an added boost to make up for their loss.

"Ya know, we can all grovel and be sad but hey, ya know what, the community has got to do what we've got to do and we're glad to be a part of that corrective action," Green said. 

Most hotels are still open to guests. You can check into a room but all of the other amenities have been shut down.