TAMPA, Fla. — Tampa Bay area businesses and workers are bracing for a hit after several sporting events and concerts are postponed due to the coronavirus.
When Jujuan Burton saw all his hours crossed out on his work schedule, he thought one thing.
“I thought I was fired," he said.
Burton works for Amalie Arena and for an event staging company. But now, with events like the NCAA tournament, lightning games, concerts and more canceled or postponed, he says he's in trouble.
“That means there won’t be a paycheck pretty much," said Burton.
With the closing of the arena, Burton says he is devastated because he is also homeless. He stays at the Salvation Army shelter.
However, the Vinik Sports Group says it will compensate part-time employees who were previously scheduled to work games and events through the end of March. That period marks the end of the 2019-2020 Tampa Bay Lightning's regular season.
“We pride ourselves on doing the right thing for our employees, especially in times of need. Jeff Vinik is a fantastic owner and we understand that our organization is where it is because of the people that work here," CEO Steve Griggs said in a statement. "Our ‘family’ is what makes our business so strong, and during these uncertain times, we want to step forward and be there for these employees."
The agency is also launching VSG Cares to "provide assistance for full and part-time employees with immediate needs created by temporary financial hardships due to an emergency."
The program will help employees and their dependents with housing, utilities, food, transportation and other essential family needs.
Visit Tampa Bay made a statement on the impacts on the local economy:
It's too early right now to put a number on impacts on the local economy. March is our busiest month, so the impact will be significant, but it will be a while before we have solid figures. In the meantime, we encourage Florida residents who are healthy and taking proper precautions to staycation locally during spring break as a way to support the many small businesses that make up much of our tourism economy.
Craig J. Richard, President and CEO of the Tampa Bay EDC, said they are still working on gathering information:
We’ve not yet had reports from local companies about the impact of COVID-19 on their business. However, we’re continuously gathering information that can help Tampa Bay businesses and posting these resources on our website. We will continue to monitor the impacts of COVID-19 and update our website with new information as it becomes available.
On Thursday, Mayor Jane Castor pulled the plug on this weekend’s River O’Green and St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Ybor.
“The safety and security of our citizens will always be number one, but I also have to consider the economic impact," she said. "I’m not taking lightly when I make these decisions but the decisions have to be made in the best interest of our community.”
Restaurant and bar American Social is seeing an influx of cancellations.
“We’ve certainly taken a hit when it comes to private events," said Adam Perhosky, the director of marketing and events. "Convention businesses is canceling right now through April and early May.”
Over at the Salvation Army, Captain Andy Miller worries that as more people go without work, his shelter will reach full capacity.
“We have a concern that the wheels of the economy have slowed down and its really through access to the market that people get out of homelessness," said Miller.