Hotels hiring more employees, falling short of pre-pandemic numbers

Posted at 6:50 PM, Nov 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-16 18:50:13-05

LEE COUNTY, Fla — Local hotel leaders i spoke with today say they are still hiring despite a rise in COVID-19 numbers. They’re reinforcing safety measures like social distancing and mask wearing to keep guests and employees safe. Some have even scaled staffing back a lot.

Bill Waichulis, Vice President or Operations of Pink Shell Beach Resort said he had to furlough most of his employees in the Spring, and they’ve amped up COVID-29 protections.

A virtual tour of shows guests what changes to expect, from valet staff disinfecting their cars, to hand sanitizer stations on elevators, to a germ-fighting mist sprayed over all food preparation and dining areas.

“We’ve got 250 employees that we want to make sure are safe and working,” said Waichulis.

Now, 90 percent of his staff is back and he’s still looking to fill eight positions.

“It’s challenging, but we’re on nine acres of property, so it’s a good area to social distance,” he said.

Pink Shell isn’t the only business picking up again. Earlier this month the U.S. Department of Labor showed an 11 percent decrease in Florida’s unemployment claims, bringing new claims down to about 31,000 filed the week of November 7th.

Jim Wall with Career Source Southwest Florida says the state’s spike in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks could slow that process down.

“Businesses just don’t want to be caught where they have to hire somebody and then we shut down,” he said.

That tight-rope approach is what the Westin Resort in Cape Coral is taking. Their general manager said they’re also taking precautions, an they’ve had to cut their staff by half. They went from 200 employees on payroll pre-pandemic to just 100. Waichulis just hopes another economy shutdown doesn’t come back to Florida.

“Closing the businesses would be completely detrimental to our economy. I only could hope that that never happens,” he said.

The general manager of the Westin says staffing for the hotel will likely stay at 50 percent through the end of 2021.

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