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Central Florida hotels forced to close is devastating to workers, industry

Walt Disney World, Universal Studios close resorts more to come, experts say

Disney hotels
Disney hotels

Hotel experts believe by the end of the weekend more than 100 hotels in Orlando’s tourism district will have no choice but to close their doors due to the coronavirus, leading to tens of thousands of layoffs.

Walt Disney World and Universal Studios closed their resorts at 5 p.m. Friday and all the major theme parks closed Monday.

“Devastation, we are looking at a period of time that will be record-setting,” said Richard Maladecki, President of the Central Florida Hotel and Lodging Association. “These are uncharted waters and literally tens of thousands of hospitality and lodging employees are either being furloughed or laid off.”

According to Maladecki, there are 450 hotels in the tourism district with more than 125,000 rooms and most of them reported seeing double-digit drops in occupancy.

Because of that, he said the big hotel, which also relies on convention occupancy has already closed. Including the Renaissance Inn near Sea World and the Hyatt Regency on International Drive.

[RELATED: Florida governor bans all restaurant dining, orders gyms to close | Interactive map shows Florida coronavirus cases]

According to statements posted on the hotels’ websites, the Four Seasons on Disney World property and the World Marriott Center are also no longer taking reservations.

With those closures, comes unemployment, Maladecki said.

“You are going to see employees not being able to work, not being able to put food on their table or pay their mortgage or rent.”

News 6 spoke to one hotel worker who was just laid off Friday morning.

“We went home to bring all the uniforms and then they give you paper to go to unemployment papers and stuff like that,” she said. “We don’t have a job until something changes, we wait for God. God can change everything.”

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