Monterey County businesses face mounting holiday uncertainties

MONTEREY – An unwelcome guest is causing most everyone to reconsider their plans for Thanksgiving and quite possibly through the Christmas holiday too as COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc.

It is also dashing hopes of local hospitality businesses that the holidays will bring an influx of visitors. On Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a recommendation to Americans not to travel to celebrate Thanksgiving and Gov. Gavin Newsom imposed a curfew in the purple counties of California, which includes Monterey County.

“More than 1 million COVID-19 cases were reported in the United States over the last seven days,” says the CDC website. “As cases continue to increase rapidly across the United States, the safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving is to celebrate at home with the people you live with.”

The COVID curfew went into effect Saturday night. It is a limited stay-at-home order that applies to everyone who isn’t an essential worker from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. It does not apply to homeless people or people from the same household going out together as long as they do not mix with others. The order will be in effect until Dec. 21. and may be extended or revised as needed.

“Research studies are showing that there will be a shift in people’s travel patterns for the holiday season, and we know our numbers won’t be like they were last year,” said Rob O’Keefe, Monterey County Convention and Visitors Bureau president and CEO. “Some people will still travel, but according to a Destination Analysts national survey from Nov. 15, one-third of American travelers are canceling Thanksgiving trips.”

O’Keefe said that the Convention and Visitors Bureau has heard from area hotels that the impact of the CDC’s recent advisory has not had an immediate impact but overall occupancy is still down significantly compared to last year.

“With occupancy down, employment is also significantly down for hospitality workers,” said O’Keefe.

Last week, Newsom said officials believe the state’s recent increase in coronavirus cases may be tied to Halloween celebrations. As he attempts to tamp down the latest and ever-widening jump in cases, the governor specifically strengthened the state’s mask rules making it mandatory for masks to be worn at all times when outside the home with few exceptions.

As area businesses and industries gear up for the holidays, albeit under continued COVID-19 restrictions as Monterey County has never risen above the purple tier, some leaders are struggling to find a silver lining.

“The somewhat educated look ahead at the holiday travel season indicates that it appears to be fairly strong in somewhat relative terms,” said Mike La Pier, Monterey Regional Airport executive director. “Certainly not what we would experience and look forward to in a non-pandemic environment but, according to what we have read, the demand for holiday travel is strong.”

The Monterey airport’s traffic continues to recover somewhat to the point where it experienced just under 40% of its 2019 levels year-over-year so far in 2020, said La Pier.

But trying to figure out how the latest COVID-19 surge coupled …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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