Governor Jay Inslee announced in his speech on Thursday that there are no new orders for whole-house services, but many businesses and trade organizations are ready to implement a new round of potentially expensive restrictions as early as next week.
Rhein Haus and co-owner of seven other Seattle area restaurants, Seattle restaurateur James Weimann, said: “I can’t imagine that as the number of positive cases increases, we will not impose more restrictions.”
Weiman believes that such restrictions may be necessary, but he worries about what it means for a company that has laid off nearly two-thirds of its employees and currently accounts for 30% of its revenue in 201
When the nine-month-old epidemic seems to be entering a more intense and uncertain phase, he may speak in many business circles in Washington.
Although new restrictions are widely expected with the surge in coronavirus cases, there is still no consensus among companies, trade groups or economists on the governor’s proposal.
So far, Inslee’s announcement only lists voluntary measures related to private parties and out-of-state travel.
However, the governor’s speech on Thursday opened the door to the possibility that “further measures” “may affect our work outside the home.” This wording is widely understood to mean a new restriction.
“This is the governor’s style-a bit like setting an example,” said Tom Norwalk, President and CEO of Visit Seattle, an organization that represents the region’s already-battered tourism industry. Norwalk said it is not yet clear what is “what might be the next step in terms of severity.”
This will only increase the atmosphere of uncertainty lingering over the corporate world. In addition to questions about the rising rate of coronavirus cases, companies don’t know when or whether Congress will expand pandemic relief measures, such as “salary protection” loans, which have allowed many companies to survive since the pandemic began.
Despite these unknowns, many companies and trade groups are already formulating a severe situation, especially in public-facing sectors such as food services, tourism and accommodation. These companies account for a disproportionate share of the layoffs and losses related to COVID-19 and may bear the brunt of any new state and local restrictions.
According to the Washington Hotel Association (WHA), even without the new restrictions, industry estimates indicate that 35% of restaurants and 49% of hotels in the state will be permanently closed due to the pandemic.
At a press conference on Friday, the President of the World Health Assembly, Anthony Anton, warned that a new set of restrictions could wipe out the profits recovered by hotels and restaurants that have survived since the spring.
Of the 191,000 jobs that the industry initially lost due to the pandemic, “we were able to bring back 100,000 jobs,” Anton said. But “if we have to shut down again, that means we will lose those 100,000 jobs.”
He said that even if the company does not shut down but only reduces its capacity limits (for example, ordering a restaurant to increase from 50% of the currently allowed indoor capacity to the current 25%), it can be devastating. Anton said: “It is really difficult to make a full-service restaurant work rate of 25%.” “The difference between 25% and closing time is-roughly the same.”
Ethan Stowell, a well-known Seattle restaurant owner, expressed concern about this. The company’s business scale is only one-third of its pre-pandemic level. He said: “If we retreat and business declines, it means layoffs.” “This is the principle of mathematics. They will not restrict indoor dining or close indoor dining, and no one will lose their jobs.”
In view of these loopholes, business leaders have been opposed to severe restrictions this spring. Instead, they repeated Governor Inslee’s message about the importance of individual consumer behavior to the spread of the virus.
Anton said at a press conference on Friday that infection data in Pierce, Clark, and Walla Walla counties indicate that most cases can be traced back to homes, social gatherings or workplaces outside the food service industry, while “not Up to 1% comes from restaurants.”
Other business leaders also emphasize personal behavior. Kris Johnson, chairman of the Washington State Business Association, said in an interview shortly after the governor’s speech: “Wear a mask, save work, and take personal responsibility for your behavior at home.” “We need to find a way to do this. Eliminate this virus so that small businesses don’t have to shut down.”
Mike Faulk, a spokesperson for the governor’s office, wrote in an email that the governor’s office “has been communicating with stakeholders from all walks of life to seek advice on restricting activities.”
Economists say that although the upcoming restrictions are less stringent than last spring, many public-facing companies still face a severe winter.
The economist James McCaffrey, co-director of the Center for Economics and Business Research at Western Washington University, said that not only do companies face potential government restrictions, but consumers will also face consumers, regardless of restrictions, because of COVID -19 cases, they are unwilling to patronize the rise of enterprises.
McCaffrey said that in April last year, consumer mobility-“the number of people going out for fun” dropped by 53% from previous levels. Although the disease has recovered somewhat, he expects that as the number of coronavirus cases continues to increase and consumers “begin to personally understand the people affected by the disease,” it will again drop by about 40% from normal.
This shows greater uncertainty: Can government restrictions curb the spread of the disease while encouraging consumers to feel safe? Or, “regardless of what the governor says, consumers decide to avoid those businesses,” said economist Jacob Vigdor (Jacob Vigdor). School of Public Policy and Governance, University of Washington, Evans University.
Wigdor said: “A three-dimensional chess game involving consumers, businesses and Governor Inslee is underway.” “So, from one perspective, this means that the governor’s decision is less multipliable than we thought. But. This also means that the outlook is frustrating.”