COVID-19, also referred to as the “novel coronavirus,” has already had a major local impact on the San Francisco economy. In response, the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, SF Travel Association, Hotel Council of San Francisco, Golden Gate Restaurant Association, California Music & Culture Association, San Francisco Bar Owners Alliance, Council of District Merchants Associations, and small business leaders urge federal, state, and local elected leaders to develop an economic recovery package for San Francisco businesses impacted by this evolving situation.
Rodney Fong, President and CEO of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce says, “With estimates of 50%-70% cuts in gross receipts for some small businesses in just the first weeks of the outbreak, small business owners are already being faced with difficult decisions. Event cancellations through the coming months and the uncertainty affecting the hospitality industry means months of struggling to recover. Almost every industry in San Francisco will be adversely impacted by the current situation. We must act swiftly to mitigate the economic impact on our businesses and provide them with both the resources and information that they need.”
San Francisco now has confirmed cases with presumed community transmission, and the city has begun to see a rapid change in consumer behavior from residents and visitors.
Small Business Commission President, Sharky Laguana says, “We have a challenging road in front of us, and the time to act is now. Protecting the businesses and workers in our City is not just an economic issue, it’s a public safety issue. We are all in this together.”
Amelia Linde, the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce’s Manager of Small Business adds, “COVID-19 social distancing will amplify the negative effects on business, and especially small businesses that rely more on immediate cash flow to cover overhead, payroll, and other obligations. Small businesses already face several challenges operating in San Francisco. Without economic assistance, the additional strain on their daily cash flow may trigger small business closures and ultimately, loss of employment.”
Ben Bleiman, President of the Music and Culture Association and Founder of the San Francisco Bar Owner Alliance, says, “San Francisco’s mom and pop businesses are the lifeblood of our economy and our communities. We were already at the brink of collapse due to the exorbitant costs of doing business in the city, but the precipitous loss of revenues we now face due to the Coronavirus is catastrophic. We are asking for immediate relief from our city government to prevent massive layoffs and countless bankruptcies.”
All industries have already begun to feel the negative impacts of COVID-19. “The hotel and hospitality workers of San Francisco are not only our ambassadors, they are on the front lines of business and combating the COVID-19 outbreak,” says Kevin Carroll, President & CEO of the Hotel Council of San Francisco. “The impact of the virus and the understandable social-distancing protocols to mitigate its spread have been devastating to San Francisco’s hotel industry and its employees. San Francisco’s number one industry is hospitality and tourism. This economic recovery package is essential to getting our workers and hotels back to full capacity.”
Joe D’Alessandro, President and CEO of SF Travel says, “The new recommendations by the Mayor, the Department of Public Health and the Department of Emergency Services regarding social distancing reflect their responsibility to keep the public safe and healthy. Like them, we recognize that this will have an impact on San Francisco’s largest industry, tourism, which supports 86,111 jobs in businesses large and small and generated $819.7 million in taxes and fees for the City of San Francisco in 2019.”
Our businesses need an economic recovery package that will help mitigate cash flow shortfalls so they can remain viable through the duration of this public health and economic situation.
The San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, SF Travel Association, Hotel Council of San Francisco, Golden Gate Restaurant Association, California Music & Culture Association, San Francisco Bar Owners Alliance, Council of District Merchants Associations, and small business leaders have submitted a series of policy proposals that could form an economic recovery package. This package includes tax relief and
extensions, marketing stimulus to boost tourism and shopping, and waivers for city/county business-related fees.
Some specifics of this package include providing cash flow options for businesses struggling with payroll and rent and a temporary expansion to unemployment insurance and cover underemployment due to COVID-19, which would allow many San Francisco businesses to support their employees this time.
Further suggested actions include: extending the collection date for annual and monthly sales taxes coming due this spring until later in the year, a one-year waiver of all city and county business-related fees for storefront small businesses, and lower rates for city-owned venues and associated fees to help the conference industry recover more quickly.
Joe D’Alessandro adds, “We recognize that the COVID-19 situation is evolving rapidly and hope our leaders on a local, state and federal level will work with us to develop an economic recovery package for San Francisco businesses so that San Francisco can begin their economic recovery.”
Rodney Fong ends with, “It is paramount that our government leaders act swiftly and decisively in order to mitigate the potential economic devastation of COVID-19. The Chamber of Commerce and our partners look forward to working with our local, state and federal leaders to tailor solutions for the community as the situation evolves.”
For Immediate Release: March 10, 2020
Media Contact: Jay Cheng, SF Chamber of Commerce, 408-691-0423