The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated restaurants, bars, hotels, entertainment, travel, and other hospitality sector businesses throughout the country. As of May 2020, the national unemployment rate for the leisure and hospitality industry was 35.9%, compared to 5% just one year prior in May 2019. Meanwhile, many states and local communities rely on food service, tourism, and hospitality for their economic livelihood.
As all states have already begun their initial reopening phases, employees of these industries have joined those in the health care industry on the front lines, interacting with customers while the pandemic continues to impact the nation’s health and economic well-being. How have restaurant owners and hotels adapted their business to keep workers and customers safe? What is the economic outlook for this service sector if food and travel continue to be disrupted and uncertain over the next one to two years? What does that portend for the policies needed to support the most vulnerable employees, suppliers, and small businesses in the industry? And, with the nation roiling with concerns about racial equality, how is the private sector stepping up to address these longstanding issues of injustice?
On Monday, June 29, the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program hosted a conversation with Chef José Andres and Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson about how the restaurant and hotel industries are adapting to the shifting economic landscape.