MHLA sent this letter to Governor Hogan and Secretary Schulz urging targeted relief for hotels on November 20, 2020. Text may be viewed below or via the previous link. Contact Amy Rohrer if additional information is needed.
November 20, 2020
The Honorable Lawrence J. Hogan, Jr. The Honorable Kelly M. Schulz
Office of the Governor Secretary of Commerce
100 State Circle 401 E. Pratt Street
Annapolis, MD 21401 Baltimore, MD 21202
Dear Governor Hogan and Secretary Schulz:
On behalf of Maryland’s lodging industry, I am reaching out with a critical request for targeted relief for Maryland hotels. Hotels have qualified for very little of the COVID-19 relief available to small businesses in Maryland, and yet the majority of hotels in the state are run by small business owner/operators who are among the hardest hit by COVID-19 restrictions. Year to date revenue through September 2020 is down 48.3% and occupancy among available rooms is down 33.2% for the same period. 6.4% of the total rooms in Maryland are completely closed and not even factored into year to date occupancy levels. With the CDC urging against Thanksgiving travel and increased restrictions going into the holiday season, hotels are being hit hard by COVID-19.
Absent further governmental relief, massive foreclosures and permanent closures are predicted. According to a study released this week by the American Hotel & Lodging Association, 71% of hotels report they will not last six more months at current projected revenue and occupancy levels. We hope to avoid the detrimental impact this will have on Maryland’s economic recovery. It is not just hotels but cities, counties and the state that would suffer greater economic loss with shuttered hotels leading to lower property value/tax assessments, loss of hotel tax, loss of sales tax, loss of jobs, etc. Relief is necessary for hotels to survive the tough winter ahead and be part of the economic recovery anticipated to begin in the second quarter of 2021.
Initially, the COVID-19 layoff aversion fund appeared to be something that would help us get through the next quarter. However, as we have applied and been denied, we’ve become aware that this program isn’t targeted for an essential industry that relies heavily on frontline employees who cannot be transitioned into working remotely. We need employees to keep hotels open, but we also need guests occupying the hotel at a high enough level for doors to stay open.
On October 22, 2020, the Governor’s press release announcing the $250 Million “Maryland Strong: Economic Recovery Initiative” included the following:
$100M: Emergency Rapid Response Fund for Small Businesses
The governor’s initiative sets aside $100 million that can be immediately deployed to areas where there is the greatest need as the pandemic continues to affect various sectors and as state and local governments wait for the federal government to take action on additional stimulus relief.
The lodging industry was among the first to be impacted by the pandemic and we will be one of the last to recover. We respectfully urge your consideration of direct relief for hotels, similar to the $50 Million grant program providing direct relief for restaurants. We are in need of relief that can be used for debt or operating expense, such as mortgage payments, insurance, utilities, property taxes, payroll / payroll taxes, franchise fees, license and permit fees.
Please let me know how we can best move this request forward. I appreciate your time and consideration, and thank you for all that is being done to support Maryland’s business community during this difficult time.
Amy W. Rohrer, CAE
President & CEO
Maryland Hotel Lodging Association
Governor Hogan announced today that effective November 20, 2020 at 5:00 P.M., dine-in service at bars, restaurants and all facilities where food/alcohol are served must close by 10:00 P.M. Takeout and delivery services are encouraged, but in-person dining operations will not be permitted between 10:00 P.M. and 6:00 A.M. Visit the MHLA COVID-19 Resources page for more information on statewide restrictions impacting hotels.
Many counties have issued Executive Orders that go beyond state restrictions. Here’s a Maryland county-by-county list of new coronavirus restrictions (Baltimore Sun, November 16, 2020)
Members may contact the MHLA office directly with questions.
MHLA applauds Baltimore City Mayor Jack Young for his veto on two COVID-19 labor bills, 20-0543 and 20-0544. If a veto override vote is scheduled, it may occur at the next Council Meeting on December 7, 2020. Four votes are needed to sustain the veto if a vote occurs. MHLA has been and will continue to lobby for defeat of 20-0544.
MHLA submitted this letter of opposition in advance of the hearing on July 16, 2020. While we were successful in getting amendments that made an especially bad bill (20-0544) better, the Association has continued efforts to prevent this union-backed legislation that is overall harmful to the lodging industry from becoming law. 20-0544 was deemed unconstitutional by the City’s own law department and yet was passed by the Baltimore City Council in a 12-3 vote on October 5, 2020.
Many Baltimore City MHLA Members and the American Hotel & Lodging Association have engaged in advocacy efforts, led by MHLA’s lobbyist, Frank D. Boston, III, to defeat this bill. Thank you all for your engagement and continued efforts to support MHLA’s advocacy on this and other issues.
In light of Governor Hogan’s latest Executive Order, updates have been made on the MHLA COVID-19 Resources page. As always, members may contact the MHLA office with any questions.
Reopening Updates for Maryland’s Lodging Industry – updated Nov. 11, 2020 Stage Three of Recovery
As stated on the Maryland Back to Business site, “Maryland is following Governor Hogan’s Maryland Strong: Roadmap to Recovery plan, which includes details for business operations based upon the current conditions. While Maryland is currently in Phase III, under the latest executive order, capacity limits at restaurants has changed to 50%. (See below for more information on Hotel Meetings, Banquets, Weddings and Conventions.)
The use of face coverings continues to be required for all people in Maryland over the age of five in public places and elsewhere across the state. Please read the FAQs regarding face coverings (en español). For face mask signage, click here: English | en español.”
Counties may be More Restrictive
Business operations are being implemented with a flexible, community-based approach that empowers individual jurisdictions to make decisions regarding the timing of reopenings, therefore it’s important that businesses consult guidance issued by their local jurisdiction.
The Maryland Association of Counties has also provided an overview of county reopening stages.
Hotel Meetings, Banquets, Weddings and Conventions
Effective June 12, 2020, the (Amended) Directive and Order Regarding Community, Recreational, Leisure, Cultural and Sporting Gatherings and Events prohibits convention events until further notice.
We previously shared a memo from MHLA’s lobbying firm, the Law Offices of Frank D. Boston, III, providing an analysis of statewide Executive Orders and Directives impacting what is currently permitted in hotel meeting space. In light of the Governor’s amended Executive Order requiring food service establishments to decrease capacity from 75% to 50% max occupancy, effective November 11, 2020 at 5:00 p.m., an UPDATED Memo re Meetings, Banquets, Weddings and Conventions held at Maryland Hotels (Updated November 11, 2020 and replacing previous memos dated July 6, 2020 and September 25, 2020) has been posted in the Members Area of our website under Legislation & Compliance Updates. As mentioned above, counties may be more restrictive than the state and we highly recommend checking with your County Executive office and local Health Departments for guidance and additional restrictions.
Large Gatherings, Travel Advisory
As of June 10, 2020 and continuing with the November 10, 2020 Executive Order, “It is strongly recommended that all Marylanders continue to follow the most current guidance from CDC and MDH regarding social distancing, including, without limitation, avoidance of large gatherings and crowded places.” Click the following link to view FAQs regarding Social Gatherings, including those held at licensed food service establishments.
On November 10, 2020 a COVID-19 Advisory was issued by the Maryland Department of Health that strongly recommends that Marylanders undertake measures to contain the recent surge in COVID-19 cases. This advisory suggests limiting attendance at public and private indoor gatherings of more than 25 individuals in one location, limiting out-of-state travel to essential purposes only, and recommendations for testing/quarantine by out-of-state visitors to Maryland and residents who travel outside of the state. More details are contained in the advisory.
Social Distancing Requirements & Recommendations
As a reminder, hotels must comply with all social distancing restrictions in place for restaurants and bars when it comes to catering and food service. Best practices and more are on the Maryland Back to Business Website, including these below:
Additionally, Governor Hogan is encouraging Maryland business owners to take the Maryland Strong Back to Business Pledge, and display a signed pledge in your place of business. The pledge includes a commitment to follow industry best practices.
“Safe Stay” Initiative
MHLA has endorsed the national “Safe Stay” initiative (updated 10-28-20), which has been reviewed by the CDC and was developed with input from major brands and industry leaders as well as subject matter experts. COVID-19 training is also available for hotel employees.
Face Covering Requirements at Hotels
Effective July 31, 2020, at 5:00 P.M., all persons in Maryland over the age of 5 must wear masks or face coverings when visiting the public spaces of all businesses (including hotels) as well as outdoor public areas. Click here to read Executive Order 20-07-29-01.
Resources from MHLA Partners & Allied Members General Information – Best Practices, Webinars & Other Relevant COVID-19 Related Topics
Cleaning and Disinfecting
General Operation / Inspections
Cost Saving Resources
Printing and Signage
Recovery and Crisis Management – Sales, Marketing, Revenue Management and Operations