A Third Closure Puts Anchorage's Hospitality Industry in DangeR BY CARLOS MATÍAS
Small businesses in the hotel and catering sector are on the verge of disappearing in Anchorage, due to the third closure this year due to COVID-19. Bar and restaurant owners fear that this time the closure of their businesses will be definitive and will leave all their employees out of work.
Last Wednesday, acting Anchorage Mayor Austin Quinn-Davidson announced a new emergency order, limiting bars, restaurants and breweries to take-out and serve meals exclusively outdoors during the month of December. In addition, new, stricter limits are set for on-premises gatherings, and retail capacity is restricted to 25%.
"I know this is incredibly difficult news for the many citizens who depend on these businesses," said Quinn-Davidson.
Sarah Oates, president of the Alaska Cabaret, Hotel, Restaurant and Retail Association, has spoken out strongly against the measure. She is concerned that the hospitality industry will not survive the winter without substantial financial assistance. "With this emergency order, Anchorage's economy and the hospitality industry face massive and irreparable devastation," she said.
Quinn-Davidson has asked Congress for new financial assistance for struggling businesses and will ask the Assembly to allocate the $15 million in grants for hospitality businesses and rental and mortgage assistance. The new restrictions come at a time when hospital health care workers are warning of a growing number of infections, which threatens to collapse public health services and Alaska's fragile health care system. Anchorage hospitals, which are increasingly treating patients that are COVID-19 positive, continue to experience staffing problems as some workers are under stress or have been infected with the virus.
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