HOUSTON - With the NHL, MLS, MLB, NBA, NFL, and now XFL postponing or cancelling games over coronavirus concerns, some of the hardest hit are those working in the hospitality industry.
On Thursday, MichaelAngelo Torrez finished tearing down his Rodeo Houston suite, where he cooks and bartends.
Torrez said he’s now having a hard time figuring out where he'll make up for the lost money.
“It’s my most money made in a year. In a month or three weeks, I make I want to say 30 percent of my annual salary,” Torrez said.
The father of three kids has also bartended at the Diamond Suite at Minute Maid Park for 17 years. Torrez said the delay of Astros opening day, in addition to all other live sporting events being canceled, is only adding salt to the wound.
“So many people, so many suite owners, bartenders, servers, waiters, supervisors, staff that has nothing,” Torrez said.
Houston City Councilmember Greg Travis of District G said he worries the current cancellation culture will cause irreparable damage to the economy in the long run.
“I think it was a mistake to cancel the rodeo. If people didn’t want to go, you would see it in the numbers. I am fearful that the panic is going to be worse than the disease. I’m worried that the ramifications of the panic will be more dangerous than the disease,” Travis said.
According to Houston First, the travel, tourism and hospitality industries which include restaurants, hotels, and transportation has created nearly 90,000 jobs and pumps more than $12 billion dollars into the city's local economy.
“The people who are going to lose jobs, lose insurance, are who will then need insurance, need that healthcare. This needs to be taken into account. I mean we’ve got to make sure we look to the future and we don’t have any unintended consequences,” Travis said.
Travis said people should use their own discretion in deciding whether they should avoid large crowds or high-risk areas.
Health officials said their decision to postpone or cancel certain events is to contain or mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. Their hope is to avoid a surge of cases that hospitals don’t have the capacity to contain.