Businesses taking action against coronavirus; hospitality industry faces impacts

Posted at 5:36 PM, Mar 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-12 17:56:33-04

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - Right now, businesses around Hampton Roads are taking action against the coronavirus. Some are concerned this situation could impact the hospitality industry.

News 3 spoke with the President of the Virginia Beach Hotel Association, Russell Lyons, who said the association has been in constant contact with city officials about this crisis.

He said the association is trying to evaluate the fallout of this situation on its industry, but at this point it's too early to tell how much of an impact it will have on hotels in the region.

“It seems to be the main topic that everybody’s talking about,” said Courtney Mallinckrodt, bar manager at the Buckets Bar and Grill in Chesapeake.

Staff at Buckets are using a little extra elbow grease to wipe down counters, bottles and menus as the concern over the virus continues.

“We are trying to make sure that we disinfect everything that the public is touching,” said Mallinckrodt. “We have employees staying later to make sure everything is clean and coming in a little bit early to make sure everything is disinfected properly.”

As heavy cleaning continues in many businesses, there is concern over the long-term impacts of the coronavirus on the hospitality industry, especially for areas that cater to tourists.

“People are flying less. People are driving less. People are staying in hotels less. They’re not going to go out to eat,” said ODU Economics Professor Bob McNab. "They will be focusing on staying healthy and staying at home. The message is simple: there’s going to be an impact. That impact could be a temporary disruption and we are sitting here in July with a great travel season.”

Or, he said, it could be a prolonged disruption depending on the spread of the virus in the United States and in other countries. The impact will depend on how many people are affected by the coronavirus in Virginia, the U.S. and around the world.

“The best news that could happen for Virginia Beach, Norfolk and other cities is that the U.S. proactively gets a hold on the community spread of the virus, so that in June we’re standing here saying, 'We dodged a bullet, we didn’t turn into Italy,'” McNab said.

He said the most important thing for people to do to prepare is to not panic.

Below is the statement from the National Restaurant Association Vice President of Communications and Media Relations Mollie O'Dell:

“According to the CDC, this virus is not foodborne. State and local food codes establish strict safe food handling requirements for restaurants, and operators are being proactive by stepping up existing cleaning and sanitation procedures. These measures extend to the increased demand for food delivery in some areas.

“The impact of coronavirus varies greatly by geographic region. The National Restaurant Association is staying in close contact with elected officials and our members. We are encouraging members to be in contact with their local health departments for the latest information and guidance on what’s happening in their community. The Association has a webpage that it is updating with new information and resources for the industry.

“America’s restaurant and foodservice industry is home to 15.6 million trained and skilled employees. Diners can be confident that when they go to a restaurant, their food is prepared safely, served by a trained employee, and in compliance with strict health department guidelines. We urge all diners to adhere to the guidelines in place by the CDC and their state and local health officials.”