Pandemic could wipe out 225K Alabama restaurant, hotel jobs

In downtown Columbia, restaurants are filled with empty tables.
In downtown Columbia, restaurants are filled with empty tables.(WIS)
Published: Apr. 2, 2020 at 2:54 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - More than a quarter of a million of the state’s hotel and restaurant workers will be laid off as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to estimates from the Alabama Restaurant & Hospitality Association.

ARHA Communications Director Alison Ingle says the association is in constant communication with state and federal officials and is working to share any resources it can to the entire industry.

The association has developed a website,, specifically about COVID-19 industry resources for employees and businesses that includes "stimulus information, guidance, and other free resources such as carryout and delivery guidelines and links to free food safety courses,” Ingle said.

The association is also creating a workers relief fund that offers financial help to those in the industry affected by the pandemic.

“Charles Barkley, along with Redmont Distilling, have played a tremendous part in helping us kick off this initiative,” Ingle explained, with Barkley donating $25,000 and Redmont Distilling holding a t-shirt fundraiser that is set to expand to multiple cities around the state.

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ARHA is trying to think outside the box for ways to stem the industry’s losses. Some of the ideas now in place include co-hosting a recent webinar to help restaurants convert to carry-out models. Ingle said in some cases, restaurants have moved to offering groceries as a service.

Ingle says the association has asked Gov. Kay Ivey’s office to suspend evictions or foreclosures for 90 days so that industry employees have the opportunity to receive needed cash flow from assistance programs to pay their bills.

And the association is asking the Department of Labor to retroactively apply the CARES act provisions to industry employees’ date of furlough because the industry was forced to shut down in advance of other businesses because of state orders.

The hotel and food industry isn’t alone in its suffering. Industries across the board are hurting as the economic impact of the pandemic deepens.

In Alabama, a record 75,000 unemployment claims were filed in just the last week of March. Nationally, there have been more than 10 million unemployment claims in the last two weeks, with some economists envisioning 20 million job losses by the end of April.


If you are looking for food, work, or other assistance during the pandemic, check out the resources available HERE.

State officials opened a toll-free number for people who develop symptoms and need to be tested. For more on how to get tested, you can call 1-888-264-2256. This is not a medical helpline.

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