Memphis tourism and service industries hurting due to coronavirus

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — On Beale Street, the music was still playing Tuesday night, but there wasn’t much to celebrate.

The shops were largely bare because potential tourists are avoiding travel due to the coronavirus, COVID-19.

Robert Parker works at Memphis Music on Beale, where business is down nearly 75% since the start of the outbreak. What should have been a Spring Break business bonanza has turned into a Spring Break dud.

“At first, it was half the amount of people, and then with the days increasing with information about the virus, it’s even less,” Parker said. “It’s almost not even worth being open.”

In the service industry, many of bars and restaurants around town are temporarily closed or reducing staff to slow the virus’ spread and contend with falling demand. Now, a lot of people have been left without jobs.

“I think it’s safe to say it’s an unprecedented situation,” Greater Memphis Chamber Chief Marketing Officer Apryl Childs-Potter said.

And economic experts don’t know how long it’s going to last or how bad it could get for workers.

Thankfully, some relief may be on the way, as lawmakers in Washington are working on a stimulus package potentially worth $1 trillion. The plan, which is supported by Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland, would mean financial help for hurting households and businesses.

“To really put money in the pocket of these folks who have been negatively affected through no fault of their own,” Strickland said.

Parker supports the plan, too.

“That’s great because we have to find alternative ways to stay in business,” he said.

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