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
It’s still the question on everyone’s minds: What’s going on with extra COVID-19 unemployment benefits?
The $600-a-week payments have ended, officially, as of July 31. For now, there is no additional federal pandemic unemployment assistance. House Democrats want to renew the $600 payments. Senate Republicans have proposed giving the unemployed 70% of their most recent salary by this October, when state unemployment offices have had time to reconfigure their computer systems to do those calculations. Until then, jobless workers would just get another $200. But, nothing has been agreed upon yet.
What’s the latest on evictions?
For millions of Americans, things are looking grim. Unemployment is high, and pandemic eviction moratoriums have expired in states across the country. And as many people already know, eviction is something that can haunt a person’s life for years. For instance, getting evicted can make it hard to rent again. And that can lead to spiraling poverty.
Which retailers are requiring that people wear masks when shopping? And how are they enforcing those rules?
Walmart, Target, Lowe’s, CVS, Home Depot, Costco — they all have policies that say shoppers are required to wear a mask. When an employee confronts a customer who refuses, the interaction can spin out of control, so many of these retailers are telling their workers to not enforce these mandates. But, just having them will actually get more people to wear masks.
You can find answers to more questions on unemployment benefits and COVID-19 here.
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