|From Tori Emerson Barnes @ 8:53 PM on April 7__ |
- With implementation of the CARES Act underway, conversations on Capitol Hill have quickly moved to the next phase of legislation. While another sweeping relief package (Phase 4) is still on the table for the coming weeks, discussions have shifted to technical corrections to the CARES Act as well as replenishing the funds it provides.
- We anticipate that Congress will take up a CARES Act technical corrections/replenishment of funds relief package at the end of April that would further expand on the CARES Act and secure more relief for healthcare, American workers and small businesses across the country. Congressional leadership understands the importance and necessity of this package before looking ahead at a broader stimulus package to help jumpstart the economy—which we believe must include incentives and support for jump starting travel and tourism and may include improvements to infrastructure.
- On Friday, applications opened for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), the Small Business Administration's (SBA) loan program to help small businesses continue to pay their employees throughout this crisis. The program, which will be administered through banks, received hundreds of thousands of applications within the first few days, despite a bumpy rollout. In response to the high demand, the U.S. Senate may take steps as early as this Thursday to add $200-$250 billion to the program. We are calling for $600 billion in additional funding for the PPP.
- Last Thursday, Speaker Pelosi announced that a bipartisan committee in the U.S. House of Representatives would be formed to oversee the distribution of the $2 trillion provided in the CARES Act, as well as funds from any future legislation. The committee will be led by House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn and will feature members of Congress from both parties and several other House committees.
- Late last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated their guidance to recommend that all U.S. residents wear "cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain," such as grocery stores. However, the CDC maintains that surgical masks and N-95 respirators should be reserved for healthcare workers.
Travel Industry Updates
- U.S. Travel is continuing to work through the details of the CARES Act as more regulations become available and has posted several resources on our website. We continue to seek clarification and guidance on application processes and disbursement for CARES Act programs, not only with the small business areas but also as the rules are determined for the Exchange Stabilization Fund.
- Together with AHLA, AAHOA and IFA, U.S Travel sent a letter to the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Federal Reserve last week requesting that they establish programs to provide immediate relief to travel-dependent organizations that do not qualify for other assistance under the Act, along with several potential ways to accomplish this goal.
- U.S. Travel and the aforementioned associations also sent a letter to the U.S. Department of the Treasury and SBA last week with a list of our questions on the PPP, loan forgiveness and other necessary guidance the travel industry needs with regard to provisions of the CARES Act. Late on Monday, the SBA, in consultation with Treasury, released an FAQ document on the PPP that they plan to update periodically—but we are still pushing for guidance on other programs and relief options.
- In addition, we have had numerous conversations with Congress and the White House outlining what needs to be included in a Phase 4 relief package to keep our industry afloat. At the top of the list is widening the scope of eligibility for the PPP to include 501(c)(6) organizations such as DMOs, as well as other DMOs that are structured as 501(c)(4) organizations or political subdivisions, in addition to other provisions that would benefit medium and large businesses and airports. We plan to fully formalize our legislative requests and send to Congress this week and will continue activating the industry in a grassroots effort to amplify our voice on Capitol Hill.
- The numbers released by the U.S. Department of Labor on Friday only emphasize the immediate need for relief for the travel industry. Employers reported a loss of 701,000 jobs in March, 65% of which were in the leisure and hospitality sector—the largest monthly decline this sector has ever seen. We know that this data does not yet paint a full picture of the losses our industry is currently experiencing, as over 10 million Americans had applied for unemployment benefits by the end of March.
WEBINAR: NAVIGATING THE CARES ACT FOR DESTINATION MARKETING ORGANIZATIONS
In response to questions from many of our DMO members about what aid they qualify for under the CARES Act, U.S. Travel will host a webinar titled "Navigating the CARES Act for DMOs." The webinar will be devoted to answering questions we have received from DMOs, CVBs and state tourism offices about their eligibility and assistance for their organizations and staff.
Please register below to join us this Thursday, April 9, from 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. ET. and submit your questions here in advance.
OTHER CORONAVIRUS NEWS
- New analysis from Moody's Analytics found that the closure of businesses across the country has caused daily output in the U.S. to be 29% lower than the first week of March. The biggest percentage decline in output occurred in Gilpin County, Colorado, a tourism-heavy county whose output has declined by 70%.
- On Saturday, White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Deborah Birx said that some U.S. cities, particularly New York, Detroit and New Orleans, were expected to reach their peak outbreaks this week. New York Governor Cuomo announced on Monday that the state may have succeeded in its efforts to flatten the curve, citing data that new hospitalizations have decreased over the last few days and discharges have increased.
- A U.S. intelligence report found reason to believe that China's coronavirus numbers are not accurate, stirring debate over how bad the outbreak is expected to be in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world. However, the country has been loosening restrictions, and today, they claimed their first day without a coronavirus death since January.
- Some countries in Europe have also shown signs of improving, with Spain experiencing decreases in the number of coronavirus deaths for four straight days and Italy recording its lowest coronavirus death toll last week. Austria, meanwhile, has become one of the first countries in Europe to announce a plan for reopening their economy after being on lockdown since mid-March. They plan to open smaller stores next week, open larger stores at the end of the month and wait until mid-May to re-open restaurants and hotels.
- Elsewhere in the world, the outbreak is still trending in the opposite direction. Japan announced a state of emergency, though it has not enforced a country-wide lockdown and many businesses remain open. In the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been diagnosed with coronavirus and has been admitted to the intensive care unit. The country has been in lockdown for two weeks.