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Iconic hotels in Victoria shut down over coronavirus concerns

Last Updated Mar 24, 2020 at 10:34 pm PST

Summary

Two iconic hotels are shutting their doors in Victoria due to the COVID-19 pandemic

The move was made to stop the spread of the virus, but hundreds of staff members have been laid off as a result

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) – The Hotel Grand Pacific and Empress Hotel in downtown Victoria are the latest hotels shutting down until further notice.

It’s an increasingly common occurrence across the province, as all nonessential travel grinds to a halt.

In a written statement to CityNews Vancouver, the Empress Hotel’s General Manager Indu Brar says “a small contingent of staff will stay on the property to maintain emergency services. And that this is a challenging time for Victoria and beyond. Our hearts go out to all who have been impacted.”

Jeff Bray is with the Downtown Victoria Business Association.

He says they knew this was a likelihood as news of event cancellations and travel restrictions started to hit.

“You know that the numbers were you know, where they would normally be? It’s between 60 and 70%. Right now they were down at 10%,” he says. “So, you know, just a significant drop-off. And of course, you know, that’s because most people are following
guidelines.”

He says there is no area of the private sector economy that is not being impacted, and both small and medium-sized businesses are anxiously awaiting economic aid announced by various levels of government.

“It’s not like they have the capacity to take on a whole bunch more debt. And I think that it for some will be the tipping point if they can get some support to just exist. They can then ramp up again when we get through the other end,” he says.

It’s a sentiment being echoed by the B.C. Hotel Association, which says closures are hitting across the province.

“Sunday evening, we had about 35% of the hotels in British Columbia close to of course the largest hotels are Vancouver, Richmond and Whistler and Victoria and none of those forks You know, large hotels being there,” says Ingrid Jarrett, President of the B.C. Hotel Association.

She’s urging everyone to stay home in an effort to make the pandemic as short as possible.

“Make sure that this is just nothing but a bad memory as soon as possible because the quicker we can get past this, the quicker we can get people back working and start the recovery.”