Coronavirus lockdown drains $225 billion and counting from US nightlife industry: Trade group

As restaurants and bars across the country reopen with occupancy restrictions in place, nightclubs are caught on the outside looking in on plans to safely get back to normal.

In some states, like Texas, bars and clubs have been permitted to welcome back patrons at up to 25% capacity, or half the amount allowed to restaurants. Other states, like Nebraska, have allowed restaurants to reopen but have ordered that bars remain closed until June. Whether owners adhere to the rules remains a different story.

What is certain, however, is that being shut down for months has amounted to billions in losses for the bars and clubs that make up the nightlife industry around the country, according to the American Nightlife Association, a trade group that represents more than 30,000 clubs.

“In the past three months, we’ve had a loss of about $225 billion,” ANA President Juan Carlos Diaz tells Yahoo Finance, adding that getting to reopen under limited occupancy is a step in the right direction, but still likely to hinder clubs more so than restaurants.

“We want to open up as soon as possible, but we have to look at the economic safety of it and guest safety as well,” he said. “We’re doing anything from temperature checks at the door to distancing at table service. There’s a lot of different strategies we’re trying to apply, not only at the local club level but at mega-clubs you’d see in Las Vegas.”

Chairs have been removed at some electronic slot machines to maintain social distancing between players at a closed Caesars Palace hotel and casino Thursday, May 21, 2020, in Las Vegas. Casino operators in Las Vegas are awaiting word when they will be able to reopen after a shutdown during the coronavirus outbreak. (AP Photo/John Locher)

For some of the casino giants in Las Vegas announcing a June 4 return to operations, including the Caesars Entertainment-owned Caesars Palace and Flamingo, all bars and clubs will not immediately open. Wynn Resorts, which announced its Wynn and Encore properties also planned to reopen June 4, noted all employees would be tested before returning to work and announced non-invasive temperature checks for guests at entrances.

While advocating for the idea of temperature testing patrons, Diaz rejected the idea of testing club patrons at the door, calling it unrealistic.

“We’re not going to begin testing people at the door,” he said. “For us, it’s to try to make sure we educate our patrons and our staff that if they feel sick, stay at home.”

But as was recently highlighted by a new outbreak in South Korea after a club visitor reportedly infected about 50 people after club hopping in Seoul, close contact in clubs can result in easy transmission from even just one infected person even before symptoms present themselves.

Assuming the same scenario doesn’t play out as clubs reopen in the U.S., Diaz projects a more meaningful return to club operations in sizable markets like Los Angeles by the third quarter.

Zack Guzman is the host of YFi PM as well as a senior writer and on-air reporter covering entrepreneurship, cannabis, startups, and breaking news at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter @zGuz.

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