Hospitality Professionals, Please Don't Make Hasty Decisions

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The future of the world, the United States and the hospitality industry is uncertain.

It’s possible that bars, restaurants, nightclubs and casinos will reopen by the end of March. But it’s also possible that mandatory closures may continue into and through April.

A sense of panic and feelings of fear and doubt are absolutely normal. But it’s important to avoid making hasty, life-altering decisions.

Hospitality workers employed by venues that have been forced to close by government mandate are likely feeling destabilized and hopeless. It can be tempting, therefore, to look at cities and states that haven’t yet ordered closures as viable greener pastures.

But the operative word there is “yet.” The speed with which local and state governments are moving in the interest of public health and safety means nobody knows what’s coming next. Severing lease agreements, packing up and driving to hopefully find work elsewhere is incredibly risky.

Looking at this situation rationally, there’s nothing guaranteeing that someone who chooses to move to find work will A) find new employment, B) find a new home, or C) arrive somewhere that doesn’t mandate the same closures they’re fleeing.

Someone feeling their current situation is dire now may truly feel lost if they incur the costs to upend their current living and working situation just to encounter the same issues elsewhere.

When fear takes hold, it can feel impossible to defeat. It’s often easier said than done but people must remain as calm and rational as possible to maintain control over their lives. Decisions made out of fear or a sense of hopelessness can make things much worse.

I want everyone in this industry—and across this country—to be safe and stay healthy. Before anyone considers moving for work, I encourage them to heed the advice of Michael Tipps: negotiate with your landlord.

This strategy from Invictus Hospitality hasn’t just been proven to work for owners and operators—it works for anyone with a landlord. Those who take the proactive step of contacting their landlord if they must defer payment of rent will likely receive positive results.

Along those lines, it’s important to keep this recent development in mind: New York state, San Francisco and Seattle have suspended evictions temporarily due to the coronavirus pandemic. Those suspensions mean new eviction notices can’t be issued and those that are current can’t be executed. Courts in Cook County, IL (where Chicago is located) and Boston have closed for weeks, meaning eviction hearings have been paused.

Officials in Miami-Dade County in Florida haven’t officially suspended evictions but the police have stated they won’t evict residents due to the state of emergency that was declared by Mayor Carlos Gimenez.

It’s crucial that people who have been laid off or fired to keep current with developments surrounding unemployment benefits in their state. Some states have already extended temporary benefits and legislature making it easier for people to apply for and receive benefits appears to be in the pipeline. California, as an example, is waiving the one-week requirement so residents can apply for unemployment benefits immediately.

Two people in Seattle have created the Seattle Hospitality Emergency Fund for hospitality workers. Please click here to view this gofundme campaign. Jameson has also announced a donation of $500,000 for to help support bartenders during this time, and the United States Bartenders Guild offers assistance via the USBG National Charity Foundation. The Restaurant Workers' Community Foundation has announced that they're starting a fund as well. Another Round, Another Rally has been preparing for a situation like the one we find ourselves in now and will be opening applications for anyone in the hospitality industry once funding is available.

Ours is an industry that not only serves communities, it’s a supportive community itself. In times like this, it’s important to remember that hospitality workers tend to have each other’s backs.

“We all need to look to each other for support during this difficult time and not be afraid to reach out to our community if we need help or resources,” says Natalie Migliarini of Beautiful Booze, member of the Nightclub & Bar Show advisory board.

Please don’t make any major decisions without searching for the best information. If you need help, there are resources available. We can all get through this.

Nobody is wrong for feeling hopeless, scared, depressed, angry or uncertain. This situation is moving quickly and everyone is being forced to adapt to new ways of life on a daily basis. It’s important to remain calm and consider options rationally before making life-changing decisions. The industry needs you now and will need you when bars, restaurants and nightclubs can reopen and operate safely.

If you or someone you know needs help, please use these resources:

Be cautious when investigating and investing money in fundraising campaigns. Unfortunately, pandemics, natural disasters and other emergency situations attract bad actors. And as always, stay up to date with CDC and WHO guidance to stay healthy and safe.

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