Originally published on March 26, 2020 12:31 pm
Florida’s Emergency Response Team is collaborating with the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association to gauge how hotels could help with the state’s response to the coronavirus. The organizations are polling hotels owners to find out whether they would be willing to house first responders and people wishing to self-quarantine. Officials are also looking into the option of asking hotels to open up beds for Covid-19 patients should a shortage arise in hospitals.
Geoff Luebkemann is the FRLA's Senior Vice President. He's also a part of the state's emergency response team. Leubkemann can't provide exact figures on how many hotels would be willing to offer Covid-19 related accommodations. So far, more than 500 properties have responded.
"We've had interest expressed to provide that capacity across all three categories that we polled for... and Hilton this morning announced that they were interested in providing whatever manner of relief was needed, and that covers a magnitude of properties around the state," Leubkemann says.
He stresses right now, there is no need for the hotel industry to provide Covid-19 related services. However, if the need does arise in the future, Leubkemann says hotels would get paid via government contracts. He notes when a state or federal emergency is declared, funding mechanisms open up to pay for these contracts. Even in the worst-case scenario, Leubkemann does not foresee the state commandeering hotel properties.
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