LETTER: Hotels need changes to survive

LETTER: Hotels need changes to survive

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Since the coronavirus pandemic began, hotels across Illinois have worked closely with health experts to implement new safety procedures designed to protect employees and guests. Hotels are tightly controlled environments, making it easier to mitigate risk than in other public spaces. For instance, technology can be used to limit interactions between employees and guests, our ballrooms have far greater capacity for social distancing and we utilize guest lists to assist in contact tracing, if needed.

As an early adopter of these practices, we are confident hotels can safely host larger gatherings in meeting rooms and ballrooms as Illinois enters the next phase of the governor’s reopening plan. By implementing additional protocols, including temperature checks, limiting the number of people seated at tables and eliminating buffet-style food options, we believe occupancy limits can responsibly be raised to 50 percent of capacity. Under Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s current plan, hotels would face a strict 50-person limit for all events until a treatment or vaccine becomes available – a prospect that could take years and jeopardizes thousands of events already booked in our venues.

Such a limit makes it nearly impossible for hotels to host weddings and business meetings in a cost-effective manner. These events make up to half of a hotel’s bottom line. Unnecessarily limiting attendance will only compound the damage hotels have already experienced, including massive layoffs and closures. In Illinois, state and local municipalities have lost out on $691.8 million in tax revenue generated by the hotel industry, according to a recent study by Oxford Economics.

The hotel industry has proven its dedication to providing safe spaces to gather. It is vital the governor update his reopening guidelines to help keep the tourism and hospitality afloat.

-Michael Jacobson, President and CEO of the Illinois Hotel & Lodging Association


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