Coronavirus impact: 70 hotels in San Francisco temporarily closed, industry bracing for changes

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- San Francisco's hotel industry is hurting from millions in lost revenue amid impacts of COVID-19.

Seventy of the 215 hotels in the city are temporarily closed following mandatory shelter-in-place orders.

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"It was very difficult... to say we need to move on," said James Lim, general manager of the Omni San Francisco Hotel.

"COVID-19 has really dramatically changed how we operate business."

Lim furloughed more than 200 employees after being forced to close when occupancy rates dropped to historic lows.

"A week before we closed, we only had four out of 362 rooms occupied," he said. "We've never seen anything like this."

For the past five years, hotel occupancy rates in San Francisco have consistently stayed around 80-85%. But, weeks before mandatory shelter-in-place orders, rates plunged to around 6%.

"This is unprecedented," said Kevin Carroll, CEO of the San Francisco Hotel Council. "But, we will get through this."

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Carroll pointed out there's no question the city will recover, it just may look different.
"We know people will start to come back to the city, but how will that look?" he said.

"Will there be differences in how we hold meetings? Will there be differences of how guests can interact in a hotel space and ballroom?"

All legitimate questions that will likely permanently change day-to-day hotel operations.

ABC7's Stephanie Sierra asked Lim what cleaning procedures will look before re-opening.

"We're dedicating almost half a day per room for the guest rooms to clean," said Lim. "It has to be fully sanitized before guests can come in again."

Occupancy rates for the hotels that remain open is between 5 and 10%. The San Francisco Hotel Council is working on establishing new cleaning guidelines for hotels re-opening after the shelter-in-place orders are lifted.

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