- Title: Coronavirus taking a toll on San Francisco businesses
- Date: 12th March 2020
- Summary: VARIOUS OF SIGNS ON DOORS OF CHASE CENTER ABOUT CORONAVIRUS SYMPTOMS
- Embargoed: 26th March 2020 04:30
- Keywords: California San Francisco San Francisco businesses business coronavirus coronavirus impact on business coronavirus spreads
- Location: SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES
- City: SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES
- Country: USA
- Topics: Health/Medicine
- Reuters ID: LVA003C4QWYFB
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Local businesses in San Francisco are seeing their revenues drop amid the ongoing spread of the coronavirus.
Jay Cheng, the public policy director at the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, said they've received a number of reports from its members indicating drastic drops in business.
"The impact of coronavirus on San Francisco small businesses has been simply devastating," Cheng said on Wednesday, citing a 50-percent drop in restaurant reservations, a 70-percent drop in foot traffic among retailers, and a 70-percent fall in revenue for event planners.
While the city only has 14 confirmed positive cases of the coronavirus, San Francisco has been in an emergency since February 25 when Mayor London Breed issued a declaration.
That's when Nightbird Restaurant chef and owner Kim Alter began noticing a drop in business. She said a third of her reservations were cancelled that night. In the month of March alone, Alter said she saw a 12 to 14-percent drop in revenue compared to the year before. And that came after a very successful start to 2020. Nightbird saw 30 percent more business in January and February of this year compared to 2019.
The key for Nightbird is the fact that it's a small restaurant and only seats about 30 people a night, Alter said. That size allows her to more closely monitor her costs and plan ahead.
"Every day we're looking ahead, we're looking at what's happening tomorrow, we're looking at what's happening next week and next month and right now, tomorrow, you know, and the next day we're looking pretty OK because people have planned things, you know, a month in advance. Looking forward to next week where it's almost going to hit about a month of this state of emergency in San Francisco, we have some days we're doing 13 covers (people)," she said. "(I'm) hoping that that changes. But as of right now, next week's looking a little, a little bleak."
Things are looking bleak for venues as well. The city on Wednesday issued an order prohibiting non-essential events of over 1,000 people through March 25, citing the risk of the rapidly spreading coronavirus.
The Chase Center, where the Golden State Warriors basketball team plays, had signed barring people exhibiting symptoms of the virus from entering, while the Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall had a health order on its doors, detailing its closure.
The order, issued by the city's Department of Public Health, said there were 14 confirmed cases of the virus in the city and 99 reported cases. Widespread testing was not yet available but was expected to increase in the coming days, it said.
In order to prepare for continued coronavirus concerns, the Chamber is asking the city and state government to help assist businesses, like Nightbird. In a letter to Mayor Breed, the Chamber asked for tax relief and extensions, a marketing and stimulus plan, a one-year waiver on city and county business-related fees for storefront small businesses, relief from some restrictions and direct financial support.
"The key right now for many of these businesses is cash flow. So we're asking from the local and state government anything that they can do to improve the cash flow of these businesses, anything to improve the cash flow over the next few months to help these businesses ride out the wave," Cheng said.
(Production: Nathan Frandino)
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