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Low occupancy rates force DC hotels to close amid coronavirus pandemic

District officials announced new plans Friday to help local businesses during this rough economic time.

WASHINGTON D.C., DC — Some hotels across the District are being forced to temporarily close because of the lack of occupancy as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.

The owner of The Avery Georgetown Hotel said March, April and May were seeing cancellations come in daily. He said that’s when he knew it was time to close the hotel’s bright yellow door.

"Due to the traumatic number of cancellations received in the past week, and over an abundance of caution for dedicated staff, The Avery is taking an extended spring break," owner Justin Schneck said. "In the coming weeks, when we all defeat this COVID-19, we will reopen our door and welcome back or loyal customers from DC and around the world." 

The Avery Georgetown isn’t the only D.C. hotel to close its door or narrow down its staffing.

Credit: WUSA
The Avery Georgetown owner said when the pandemic is over they will be back up and running.

According to the American Hotel and Lodging Association, D.C. has lost 16,661 hotel-supported jobs due to the Coronavirus.

"We virtually shut down our thriving economy in Washington D.C., so that we can blunt the curve and get back to regular business just as soon as possible," D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said Friday.

RELATED: DC unemployment could hit 20% if restaurant layoffs persist, leaders say

The mayor’s office announced new recovery options for both organizations and individuals during the pandemic, including a new $25 million local relief fund.

"It will be funded again with local dollars, and we're planning to open up the application process early next week," John Falcicchio, the Interim Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, said. "This program will provide short term financial assistance to businesses, nonprofits, independent contractors and self-employed individuals." 

When it comes to getting unemployment insurance, officials said they are getting rid of the waiting period before you can get unemployment benefits and other requirements.

As of Friday, the mayor’s office said 11,844 D.C. workers had applied.

RELATED: Here's how to file for unemployment in the DMV

The mayor said the relief options they are working on have a huge impact on The District’s economy.

"When you talk about hotels and restaurants closing, they represent a lot of tax dollars that we won't collect," Bowser said. "So, while we are looking for ways to give relief to businesses and residents, we're also looking at our own cash flow as a city and determining how we're going to maintain our operations and provide relief." 

The mayor’s office said the Economic Injury declaration that was submitted to the Small Business Administration earlier in the week was accepted, and it is now possible for D.C. based small businesses to apply for disaster loans. 

You can learn more here. 

A Collateral Support Program is also available through the Department of Insurance Securities and Banking website.

Schneck said he’s making sure his employees are filling for unemployment during this pandemic and hopes they will see another paycheck in the weeks to come.

"This is my first hotel personally own, so this has been the hardest thing that I've ever done,” Schneck said. “It's been a hard time, I haven't slept well you know when I had to inform all my staff, this week, so it's challenging." 

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