Hospitality, restaurant and other businesses seeing huge drops in customers amid coronavirus crisis

SEATTLE – The coronavirus crisis is having a huge impact on local business, including those working on the front lines of the entertainment and hospitality industry.

Some business owners have already decided to close up shop in an effort to survive the steep decline in business.

The lights are on, bars and restaurants are open but there just aren’t very many customers.

Businesses owners are not only worried about what happens next, they also share concern about how their staff will survive.

“It’s super still and calm,” said cyclist Elizabeth Doll during her afternoon commute through Seattle. “Usually I run into traffic especially in the morning and there was just nothing today.”

“If it stays like this for more than a few weeks we’re in trouble,” said co-owner of Terra Platta restaurant Linda DiLello Morton.

The folks who run Terra Platta in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood say even though they are increasing their efforts to keep the restaurant squeaky clean, the customers just aren’t coming like before.

“This is a tipping point, this isn’t a little hiccup,” said DiLello Morton.

Nobody’s eating at Steelhead Diner near Seattle’s waterfront as the owners closed it and other restaurants in the city due to the coronavirus outbreak.

“We’re already seeing lay-offs, we’re seeing hotels at 20 percent occupancy when they should be at about 70-80 percent in downtown,” said Jon Scholes, President of the Seattle Downtown Association. “We’re seeing huge reductions in business and foot traffic downtown and we know this isn’t going to change overnight.”

Large companies in the city told thousands of employees to work from home and you can tell they are by the looks of the empty streets.

Monday the Seattle Foundation announced it has raised millions of dollars to help those disproportionately impacted.

But the lasting effect of the business slump, just as the end of winter is within sight likely means more help will be required for weeks to come.

“This is truly uncharted territory, it’s the most abrupt and sudden recession in modern time and its impacts across sectors,” said Scholes.

The Seattle Foundation says it plans to roll out an initial round of grants in the next few weeks.

So far more than $2.5 million in relief funding has been raised.