US: San Francisco mayor London Breed has announced that hospitality venues in the city may once again welcome leisure travellers.
The city had previously only allowed essential workers or essential traveller to occupy the city’s hospitality properties.
San Francisco had initially spent over $100 million renting hotel rooms for aide workers and the city’s sizeable homeless population. Occupancy rates fell below five per cent during these times.
Now, however, the city has committed to opening a variety of leisure businesses. Gyms, hair salons, tattoo shops and hospitality venues including short-term rentals have all been allowed to operate with restrictions on capacity and social distancing guidelines.
Breed said last Thursday: “I’m so glad we can move forward earlier than expected to reopen more businesses that have been closed since March. These businesses have been struggling, and starting Monday, they’ll finally be able to serve customers again, with the necessary safety precautions and modifications in place.”
Venues have begun implementing cleaning regimens and additional measures in preparation for this reopening. This includes removing amenities like magazines and slippers, fully sanitising rooms, and reducing the amount of potential interaction between guests and staffs.
Many operators are concerned that heightened cleaning requirements may hinder recovery. The city passed the Healthy Building Ordinance this July, mandating some of the country’s strictest sanitation procedures, leading the city’s Hotel Council to file a lawsuit against the city.
Kevin Carroll, president and CEO of the Hotel Council of San Francisco, told NBC Bay Area: “This harmful ordinance left us no option but to defend the safety and well-being of our 25,000 San Francisco employees and our valued hotel guests. This dangerous ordinance contradicts the advice of public health experts and would cause enormous economic hardship to our already struggling hotels trying to keep employees on the payroll.”
Estimates suggest San Francisco’s tourism industry will not recover to pre-pandemic levels until at least 2025, while hospitality owners will also be concerned that the California wildfires threatening the state will drive potential tourists away.