Beach towns to tourists: we love you, but stay home
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Summer is just six weeks away. And if you live in the Mid-Atlantic states, you might have recently seen an ad featuring shots of Ocean City, Maryland, looking beautiful… and completely empty. It all but asks people to stay home.
With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, several vacation spots are no longer actively seeking tourists—even though that means turning away a big source of seasonal income.
Jessica Waters is Ocean City’s tourism director. She says that drawing in large numbers of people is not a good idea. “You know really, we don’t have the resources here to handle a large amount of sick people.”
Ocean City isn’t just discouraging visitors. It’s closing down its beaches and boardwalk to tourists and has ordered hotels and short-term rentals to close. So have other popular destinations like Cape May County in New Jersey, where tourism provides over 43% of jobs.
Economically, it’s a tough call. “The effects on small businesses are tremendous,” said Florida State University professor Nathaniel Line. “I suppose the hope now is that plans are merely postponed and not permanently canceled.”
Amy Fairchild, dean of Ohio State University’s College of Public Health, said that to start going back to life as we know it, “the first thing is the [coronavirus] test. Testing, testing testing.”
This is vital to the economy, Fairchild said. “When we draw a distinction between economic health and public health, that’s a false distinction. In fact, the two are intimately interrelated.”
Like many experts, she warns that when it comes to reopening, it’s not just about when. It’s about how.
COVID-19 Economy FAQs
Millions of Americans are unemployed, but businesses say they are having trouble hiring. Why?
This economic crisis is unusual compared to traditional recessions, according to Daniel Zhao, senior economist with Glassdoor. “Many workers are still sitting out of the labor force because of health concerns or child care needs, and that makes it tough to find workers regardless of what you’re doing with wages or benefits,” Zhao said. “An extra dollar an hour isn’t going to make a cashier with preexisting conditions feel that it’s safe to return to work.” This can be seen in the restaurant industry: Some workers have quit or are reluctant to apply because of COVID-19 concerns, low pay, meager benefits and the stress that comes with a fast-paced, demanding job. Restaurants have been willing to offer signing bonuses and temporary wage increases. One McDonald’s is even paying people $50 just to interview.
Could waiving patents increase the global supply of COVID-19 vaccines?
India and South Africa have introduced a proposal to temporarily suspend patents on COVID-19 vaccines. Backers of the plan say it would increase the supply of vaccines around the world by allowing more countries to produce them. Skeptics say it’s not that simple. There’s now enough supply in the U.S that any adult who wants a shot should be able to get one soon. That reality is years away for most other countries. More than 100 countries have backed the proposal to temporarily waive COVID-19 vaccine patents. The U.S isn’t one of them, but the White House has said it’s considering the idea.
Can businesses deny you entry if you don’t have a vaccine passport?
As more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the economy begins reopening, some businesses are requiring proof of vaccination to enter their premises. The concept of a vaccine passport has raised ethical questions about data privacy and potential discrimination against the unvaccinated. However, legal experts say businesses have the right to deny entrance to those who can’t show proof.
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