90% of SeaWorld staff put on ‘temporary leave’ amid COVID-19 pandemic

90% of SeaWorld staff put on 'temporary leave' amid COVID-19 pandemic

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment recently announced that they will be putting 90% of its workforce on unpaid “temporary leave” amidst the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

“Government orders prohibiting large gatherings, restricting travel and mandating business closures have caused many companies to either scale back or cease operations,” the SeaWorld management said in a statement sent to its staff.

The temporary leave will be effective on the 1st of April 2020. During which, the employees will, according to the statement:

  • Not perform any job duties or receive their normal compensation;
  • Not report to the work location, nor perform any work-related duties;
  • Cease from accessing employee benefits by the end of March 31; however, they will continue to be eligible to elect to continue their healthcare benefits under COBRA; and,
  • Be eligible for recall or rehire once operations can already resume.

SeaWorld employees are encouraged to “apply for unemployment compensation benefits” to bear with the economic impact of the temporary leave.

The announcement was also corroborated in a blog post on the official SeaWorld website.

Coronavirus devastates travel and tourism industries

The movement restrictions in place throughout the country have caused “significant disruption” to the industry and is expected to continue further as long as the COVID-19 scare still persists. The current situation has affected SeaWorld’s regular operations, forcing them to ask their employees to take temporary leaves.

The whole tourism industry, which includes amusement parks, took a beating from the mobility restrictions put in place by local governments. Other sectors like hotels, airlines, car rental companies, and other travel-related businesses have hemorrhaged because of the travel restrictions and the panic from COVID-19.

Research published by Oxford Economics has predicted that 3.6 million travel-related jobs will disappear by the end of June. Travel spending is also expected to drop by $355 billion this year. According to a report by the CNBC, this implies a loss of 8.2 million visitors in a single year.

The United States was already at four-percent unemployment even before the pandemic. Now, it has risen to ten-percent, prompting the U.S. government to implement a stimulus package to help those who lost their jobs.

How will the stimulus package help the unemployed

In the form of the CARES Act, or the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, $250 billion in unemployment benefits can be accessed by Americans who happen to lose their jobs because of the pandemic.

All around the world, the same phenomenon is observed. The World Travel and Tourism Council warned that this on-going pandemic could result in the loss of as much as “50 million jobs worldwide in the travel and tourism industry” alone.

The impact of this may be so severe that the affected industries would need “up to 10 months” to recover.

Featured image courtesy of Flickr/rmansoorian

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