PHILADELPHIA - Coronavirus fears are threatening the local hospitality and tourism industry, including canceled conventions, impacts to hotels, restaurants, shops, and all those people who work in the industry.
Even before announcements of Philadephia's first confirmed case of COVID-19 and New Jersey's first death from it. Two major groups already canceled their upcoming conferences booked at the Pennsylvania Convention. More than 21,000 people were expected to attend.
"We're in constant contact with a number of customers trying to get a sense of what's going on," Kavin Schieferdecker, with the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau, said.
Ed Grose, head of the Greater Philadelphia Hotel Association, says cancelations are already alarming.
"I'm hearing from our hotels that typically run 85 percent in March are down to the low 50s," he explained.
He also says multiple millions are already lost.
"The situation seems to be changing hourly."
Addisu Habte runs Jake's Pizza and Grill next to the convention center at Broad and Race. He says the amazing foot traffic typically generated by the flower show just wasn't there last week.
The Philadelphia Health Department is recommending that people consider not attending public gatherings with more than 5,000 expected attendees. According to officials, the guidance is particularly important for people who have chronic health conditions or are elderly.
The city is using a special system to share important information about COVID-19 through free text alerts. You can text the keyword COVIDPHL to 888-777 to receive info and updates through ReadyPhiladelphia, the city's mass communication system.
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