‘Difficult decision’ to lay off 1,900 hotel staff

  • Big impact: Bermuda Hotel Association chief executive Stephen Todd (File photograph by Jonathan Bell)

Almost 2,000 hotel staff have been laid off as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Bermuda Hotel Association said yesterday.

Stephen Todd, the BHA and Hotel Employers of Bermuda chief executive officer, said: “The members of the Bermuda Hotel Association recently made the very difficult decision based on the adverse impact of the Covid-19 virus on the local economy and specifically on our hotel industry.

“We were left with making the difficult decision of having to lay off from work our industry colleagues.

“This has resulted in more than 1,900 hotel employees having to be laid off for a not as yet specified period.”

The Rosedon Hotel, Coral Beach and Tennis Club, Cambridge Beaches, the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club, Elbow Beach, The Reefs and The Grotto Bay Beach Resort have all closed their doors on a temporary basis.

The Fairmont Southampton hotel has shut down Turtle Hill Golf Club, the Waterlot Inn, the Boundary Sports Bar & Grille, the Mediterra restaurant, Wickets Coffee Bar, Windows on the Sound, the Jasmine Cocktail Bar and Lounge and the Willow Stream Spa.

Mr Todd said: “We anticipate and are hopeful that the situation will improve in the near term — however, we have no ability to determine how soon that will be.”

Mr Todd backed the Government’s unemployment benefits package for people out of work because of the pandemic.

He said: “We are very encouraged to have been advised publicly by the Bermuda Government that they are looking to provide some relief in the form of unemployment benefits to those who have been displaced from their normal employment through layoffs as a result of the Covid-19 virus.

Mr Todd said the BHA also wanted to “assist” its colleagues “as best they can”.

He added: “We are hopeful that we are able to get everyone back to work as soon as this current crisis is behind us.”

Ed Ball, the Bermuda Public Services Union general secretary, said: “To the best of my knowledge, the layoffs do not affect Bermuda Public Services Union members, although that could change.

“Certainly we have been in constant dialogue with our employers. They sent us their Covid-19 policies and we’ve been in constant dialogue of any issues that arise at the workplace.

“So in that regard, if there’s going to be any layoffs, anything to that effect, then there will be discussion.”

Mr Ball added: “Some employees in some areas, I’m told, are refusing to work.

“I guess the employer will then have options to offer them vacation or lay them off, especially if they’re in essential services.

“If that occurs, then those discussions will have input from the BPSU.

“I think people should just follow the guidelines that the Government has set. There are some people that are viewing this as a party, a paid party.

“That’s most unfortunate because, on the one hand, if they’re not going to take it seriously, in terms of the precautions, then at least show some responsibility and remain off the roads as much as possible and just co-operate with the advice that is being given by the Government and health department.”

The Bermuda Industrial Union did not respond to a request for comment.