Coronavirus restrictions may lead to lower paychecks, fewer jobs

Posted at 5:31 PM, Mar 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-12 20:54:27-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Hundreds of thousands of San Diego County workers are facing the prospect of fewer hours, lower paychecks, and even job loss.

The workers are in the retail, leisure, and hospitality fields, which in all employs more than 350,000 workers in the region.

The squeeze comes as restrictions increase related to the coronavirus, including a 30-day travel ban from Europe, a county ban on events of 250 or more people, and cancellations of major conventions.

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"There's not going to be customers, sales are going to go very low, and I'm concerned just how long is this going to last?" said Sara Long, a server at downtown's Cold Beers and Cheeseburgers.

Long said hours have been as fewer customers come in. She noted that a convention happening at the convention center that was supposed to attract 8,000 people only saw a fraction of those attendees.

John McKlosky was one of those attendees, lamenting the shell of the Fiber Optic conference he attends annually.

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"I walked in and was practically the only person standing on the carpet," McKlosky said. "I've talked to restaurant owners, hotel owners, even the Uber drivers that are running me around. They're devastated."

Already, five conventions through May have postponed or canceled, meaning 43,000 potential customers won't be coming downtown.

The quick drop off of overnight guests is impacting more than just hotels in downtown, but also lodging in surrounding areas that get a spill over.

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Elvin Lai, who owns the Ocean Park Inn in Pacific Beach, said he is normally at 100 percent capacity at this time of year but is now around 20 percent. He also hasn't filled 10 positions he normally would.

Lai reacted with shock at President Trump's announcement of the 30-day ban of travel from Europe.

"My head exploded," said Lai, also the president of the San Diego County Lodging Association. "I can't speak for them but the San Diego airport is seeing major drops in travel coming to town. That doesn't help."

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Andy Hall, an executive at the San Diego Workforce Partnership, said the agency is cross-training workers as they expect more layoff notices to come in.