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
What are the details of President Joe Biden’s coronavirus relief plan?
The $1.9 trillion plan would aim to speed up the vaccine rollout and provide financial help to individuals, states and local governments and businesses. Called the “American Rescue Plan,” the legislative proposal would meet Biden’s goal of administering 100 million vaccines by the 100th day of his administration, while advancing his objective of reopening most schools by the spring. It would also include $1,400 checks for most Americans. Get the rest of the specifics here.
What kind of help can small businesses get right now?
A new round of Paycheck Protection Program loans recently became available for pandemic-ravaged businesses. These loans don’t have to be paid back if rules are met. Right now, loans are open for first-time applicants. And the application has to go through community banking organizations — no big banks, for now, at least. This rollout is designed to help business owners who couldn’t get a PPP loan before.
What does the hiring situation in the U.S. look like as we enter the new year?
New data on job openings and postings provide a glimpse of what to expect in the job market in the coming weeks and months. This time of year typically sees a spike in hiring and job-search activity, says Jill Chapman with Insperity, a recruiting services firm. But that kind of optimistic planning for the future isn’t really the vibe these days. Job postings have been lagging on the job search site Indeed. Listings were down about 11% in December compared to a year earlier.