COVID-19 travel restrictions hurting local hotels

Bloomington DoubleTree Hotel and Conference Center. (Photo courtesy: DoubleTree/Facebook)

 

By Blake Haas

BLOOMINGTON – With Gov. Pritzker extending the “stay-at-home” guidelines until April 30, local hotels are feeling the pinch of decreased travel.

“It’s scary times for us right now. Our business has basically, not just DoubleTree business, but business across the country and world, for hotels our business came to a screeching halt,” said Bloomington DoubleTree by Hilton General Manager Raymond Ceresa. “Last week we were sold out probably four of the seven days prior to this pandemic…Once everything was announced, and the “shelter-in-place” was announced, business started canceling left and right.”

Located at 10 Brickyard Dr., Ceresa said last week the DoubleTree employed around 125 employees; however, cancellations have forced Ceresa to lay-off around 100 employees.

“My employees are hourly employees, and in the hotel industry, their hours are being cut drastically,” added Ceresa, who also serves as the President of the Bloomington-Normal Hotel & Lodging Association. “So almost 100 people that are being affected here just at the DoubleTree. We’ve encouraged all of our employees that are affected by this to file for Unemployment.”

However, Ceresa added that when employees go to file for Unemployment, they are denied access to apply due to a large number of people applying.

“I’ve had employee’s that the Unemployment system for the Illinois Department of Employment of Security has been so overwhelmed with applicants that I have employee’s daily coming in and trying to apply for Unemployment and the system just can’t handle the amount of applicant’s that they are getting around the state. I had one employee last week who tried for four-days, just trying to apply, and the system would crash.”

Over the first three weeks of March, IDES received over 130,000 unemployment benefit claims.

Blake Haas can be reached at Blake.Haas@Cumulus.com.

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