March 15, 2020 - Week 1 in Florida
It is crazy the speed at which our whole lives have changed. Just 1 week ago, everything was normal, business was moving forward, people were hiring, people were going about their daily activities, people were planning and excited about vacations and events here in Florida, then like wildfire, the coronavirus is infecting the world and everything started shutting down.
It was only a few days ago when the NBA announced it was shutting down and it was the first major indicator of the impact this virus was about to have on our society. The trickle affect happened quickly. Youth basketball events started cancelling, other youth sports cancelling, conventions cancelling, and then came the announcement from California that Disneyland was closing for 2 weeks. 1 day later, Disney World in Florida announced it would be closing and every other theme park in the U.S. and the World, followed suit. Every theme park is now closed.
Nothing like this has ever happened in our modern world. Since the opening of theme parks like Disney World, there has rarely been a day when the park had to close, in fact, there are only 4 days, due to hurricanes, when the Disney World park closed here in Florida. Until now.
And now every single theme park around the world is closed for a minimum of 2 weeks. This is unheard of! And it looks like it might be longer than 2 weeks as we try to slow this vicious virus. And all of this happened within a matter of days.
The cancellation of events has drastically hit the Florida tourism market and the huge number of conventions that take place in Florida. As the convention centers close and events are cancelled, it is not only the events that are impacted. The businesses surrounding the convention centers are hit hard. Hotels are at their lowest capacities and airbnb’s are increasingly vacant. Restaurants in the area are slower than they have ever been.
And it’s not just the sporting events and larger conventions that are feeling the pain as local gatherings, weddings, family vacations, youth sports, school events, and parties are all being cancelled. The impact on peoples lives is extreme.
While we are practicing social distancing, it is real important to come together in our communities and support each other. The most important thing to remember with this virus is that it is not about you personally catching the virus, it is about who you might hurt if you transmit it. So let’s be considerate of others, wash our hands, don’t hoard store items, and remember that we are a community and our individual success depends on the well-being of those around us as well.
I spent time this weekend calling friends and family around the state of Florida and everyone is feeling the strain of businesses closing, schools closing and the fear and panic across the world is affecting their lives.
In Miami, grocery stores were out of meats, fresh vegetables and toilet paper. Costco had lines that were out the door and a police was needed to direct traffic.
In Pembroke Pines, my sister is still going to work at her pet store and reports that people are still buying pets! And pet food is a best seller currently.
Publix workers have been rescheduled to accommodate the new hours with the store closing early, which can be disrupting to family schedules. Keeping the shelves stocked has been a challenge. But sales are high so Publix and other grocers are doing good.
My niece who is a manager at a supply company reported that moms are calling out of work because the child care centers are closed and they have to stay home with the kids.
The uncertainty in our educational community has our interns who are graduating from college at the end of this semester unsure if they will have a graduation ceremony. High schoolers are unsure if they will be able to take the SAT or ACT in time to start college.
I know lots of people who work at Disney World and Universal Studios and some of them will still be going to work while others are staying home. All are still getting paid.
I have several friends and family who work in the event industry. With youth sports events, such as showcases being cancelled, the trickle effect of the impact hits everyone from the students, to the parents, to the event company, to the venue, to the photo, video and recruiting services. Another friend just got laid off of work because she works in event sales and is currently not expected to be needed for a few months.
A small business owner who had a busy season just starting, had to go through the tough talk with his employees and lay them off until further notice because all of their events were cancelled, putting the company income on hold.
And those looking for jobs right now have been slowed down by this worldwide slowdown. Perhaps we’ll all be working for Amazon in the next few months since they have announced 100,000 possible jobs for the increase that will likely happen in online vs brick and mortar sales.
As a strong proponent of supporting local businesses, I want to remind all of you to continue to shop local if possible. Eat at the local mom and pops (or at least pick up your food from them if the dining area is closed, as most are currently). Let’s keep our local businesses in business!
Most important, now is a time to unite with your family and spend time at home together.
Here are some ideas for making the best of your home time:
Stay strong and share your stories and what’s happening in your local community with us.
Follow our weekly Florida Cornovirus Blog here to see what's happening around the state and how your fellow Floridians are being affected. Contact us and share what's happening in your business, school, family, or community.
Remember to check the Florida Health Department website daily to stay up to date on the coronavirus.