COVID-19 Coronavirus Resources for Carolinas Travel and Hospitality Businesses
Updated: 6 days ago
(Updated March 25, 2020 at 9:23 pm) Here's my list of Carolinas travel, tourism and hospitality industry resources related to COVID-19 Coronavirus. I also include news articles based on science and recommendations from Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that make a difference in my ongoing understanding of the virus and threat level for my clients and industry friends.
I am updating this list regularly.
Hospitality and Tourism Resources
North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association
This organization has launched a new, searchable website of resources for those actively working to manage layoffs and impact of the virus in the hotel and restaurant industry. SC folks, the national resources on this page can help you. You'll find news about the NEW NC Restaurant Workers Relief Fund, small business relief, small business loans, legislative advocacy and more. This is not behind a paywall. (Thanks, y'all!)
Receive their latest via text: Text COVID-19 to 52886
Independent Restaurant Coalition (newly formed)
SaveRestaurants.Co is the new site of the Independent Restaurant Coalition (IRC). The group formed the last week in March in response to the crisis. A group of national independent restaurant owners and chefs is focused on saving local restaurants affected by COVID-19. You can send a message to your national representatives from the bottom of the home page.
North Carolina Tourism
Wit Tuttell, VP, Tourism and Marketing for the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina and Executive Director of Visit NC has been sending out briefings on COVID-19 to NC tourism partners and stakeholders. To receive these updates, email Kathy Prickett at email@example.com. You can also sign up for the weekly tourism email.
North Carolina Tourism site for tourism industry partners and support: https://partners.visitnc.com/covid-19-industry-resources
VisitNC Recommendations on Travel in North Carolina:
North Carolina is urging residents and visitors to take precautions relating to the coronavirus (COVID-19). Refer to the NC Department of Health and Human Services' special webpage on the situation. Visitors and travelers in and through the state should check with their lodging provider before departing on a trip to North Carolina. More information on North Carolina relating to COVID-19 is available here.
Centers for Disease Control
Carolinas Business Relief and Support
Because national legislative changes are happening so quickly, turn to national outlets for those updates. These options below focused on restaurant and lodging options that impact our industries directly.
NEW Rapid Recovery Loans: This NEW loan program set up by the Golden Leaf Foundation and the NC Rural Center is designed to provide businesses with the capital they need before federal loans and insurance payouts are approved. The SBA process is an 8- to 21-day process. This program is expected to be completed in four days if all the info is provided. The online process starts here.
NEW NCRLA Restaurant Workers Relief Fund. Listen to the interview and get facts from the interview with 94.7QDR.
For information on how to register as an essential business during the crisis, updates on insurance and tax returns during the coronavirus in North Carolina, see this email from my NC House Representative Rachel Hunt.
If you're a Charlotte restaurant, bar or brewery doing takeout or delivery, be sure your name is on this list: https://www.charlottesgotalot.com/charlotte-restaurants-takeout-delivery NOTE: They are sourcing restaurants from Salisbury to Rock Hill, SC.
If you are a restaurant owner in Jacksonville NC, Onslow County, Heart of North Carolina (Seagrove, Asheboro and Randolph County), or in the Olde English District or Old 96 District (12 counties in SC) doing take out, delivery or curbside service, please email me to be included on those websites: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are a restaurant or bar/brewery owner or general manager and now serving take out or delivery, please contact your local tourism development authority or convention and visitors bureau, and ask them to promote your business on social media; they are likely actively working to develop lists and encourage support.
Marketing takeout/delivery with no PR firm? Listen to this video I made to help farmers, restauranteurs, breweries, chefs and artisan food makers create social media videos. Video gets extra exposure from Facebook and Instagram. Make sure you are posting photos of your takeout food--and show off the food, wine or beer going out of your business. If you can do a phone video of your chef talking about the takeout or curbside options, do it! Snap a few shots of people picking up orders. Put it across every channel you have and ask your employees and friends to share, too. If you've never boosted a Facebook post or Instagram post, now is the time. If it's your first time to do a boost, focus the boost on your Facebook friends and their friends to reach your core base of customers.
Charlotte Observer, March 18: CMS, Local Groups Organize To Help Families With Food After Closings
Heidi Billotto's list of Charlotte Restaurants Lending a Helping Hand in the face of coronavirus closings includes The Loyalist and its GoFundMe campaign. HeidiBillotto.com keeps up with Charlotte restaurant news and statewide makers and artisan updates as well as home cooking tips for frazzled parents.
In Charlotte: Small business owners suffering from the financial challenges offered by the coronavirus are invited to add their names to SupportLocalOrElse.com
I'm starting a list of national grants and options. Service industry tips allow you to offer up a toast at home and donate to service workers.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Carolinas Timeline:
This section of the original post has moved here. It features an abbreviated timeline of events specifically affecting the travel and hospitality industry. Those affected include small businesses, such as restaurants, breweries, artisan food makers, brewers, bed and breakfast owners and more.
Helpful Resources for Understanding the Coronavirus (COVID-19)
What is Flattening the Curve? Until you understand the concept behind "flattening the curve," it's hard to understand any of the sense of urgency and shift in policies, cancellations and events of March 11-14. Watch this NPR story where Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert at the National Institutes of Health, explains the concept. You can search online for "flattening the curve" and find further coverage.
My takeaway: We have to curb the virus and its transmission NOW in order to save lives and salvage our economy once we get to the other side of the public health concerns. I am urging businesses and individuals to follow the guidelines set for social distancing, avoiding large groups, handwashing, hygiene, and best practices.
Why have so many events been canceled? This article from TheAtlantic.com did a good job explaining why cancellations are essential. It's written by an associate professor at Johns Hopkins University, a senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund, and a senior adviser at Protect Democracy. He is the author of The People vs. Democracy.
Is the coronavirus deadlier than the flu? Yes.
On March 11, Dr. Anthony Fauci said, "the coronavirus is 10 times deadlier than the flu." You can watch the clip here on the CDC YouTube Channel.
A March 10 Wall Street Journal article goes into greater depth on how the two viruses compare. Both flu and coronavirus come from viruses. They are different, and there's currently no vaccination for the coronavirus.
Tips for Self-Care in Times of Stress
Once you digest all this and start thinking through the consequences, managing emotions and stress is essential. you may find some of these articles helpful.
Self-Care: 12 Ways to Take Better Care of Yourself from Psychology Today
Coping with coronavirus anxiety from Harvard Medical School
If you start to have feelings of despair or depression, please reach out to a friend or loved one and follow these tips.
Don't Lose Hope
Whatever you do, don't lose hope. I still believe in this industry and our innovation, resilience and ability to come back. You are all in the prayers of millions of Americans. We are behind you, and we want you to win and succeed. CALL your elected officials and tell them you need relief NOW or use the organizations mentioned at the top of this post to send automated messages to your elected representatives.
***Looking for more information? Read our story on what social distancing means for restaurants and take out providers.
***Want faster updates in real time? Follow our Facebook page.
Susan Dosier's 18-year career as a journalist included 12 years at Southern Living and time as a cookbook author, recipe developer and event planner. Since 2006, her public relations and crisis communications clients have included Visit North Carolina, The Asbury and The Dunhill Hotel, and EUE/Screen Gems Studios. Currently, she represents tourism and lodging entities in all three regions of North Carolina and 12 counties across South Carolina.