Coronavirus pandemic shutters hotels across Southwest Florida despite essential status

Coronavirus pandemic shutters hotels across Southwest Florida despite essential status

Many hotels across Southwest Florida have closed their doors to visitors. Blame the coronavirus. While hotels and resorts are considered essential businesses under the state’s safer-at-home order issued by Gov. Ron DeSantis last week, dozens have closed in the Naples area alone, with more expected to shutter over the coming weeks. ‘Will I have a job to come back to?’: COVID-19 takes its toll on Collier, Lee workforce Some hoteliers in the region have interpreted the governor’s executive order to mean they can’t or shouldn’t take any new reservations, while others have shut down because business has been so slow — due to coronavirus-related travel restrictions and safety concerns — that it no longer makes economic sense to keep the doors open. Still others are following stronger local orders that restrict visitation in such tourism hot spots as Fort Myers Beach and Sanibel. Jack Wert, Collier County’s tourism director, has tried to stay on top of the closures in his backyard, stretching from Naples to Marco Island and the Everglades. By Wednesday, his count had grown to 24, with another eight properties likely to stop operating soon, he said. That would bring the total number of closures to 31 — and there could be many more, as Wert said he’s been unable to get an answer from at least 20 other properties across the county, with no one answering his phone calls or emails. Many hotels have furloughed or laid off much of their staff, so they don’t have the resources to even handle new reservations if they get any, Wert said. “So,” he said, “they are just kind of hanging on.” Some of Collier County’s most well-known and iconic resorts have closed, including both Ritz-Carltons and the Naples Beach Hotel. The Naples Bay Resort is “closed for regular […]

Original Post www.usatoday.com

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