Monday, March 9, 2020
To the GANYC Community:
I would like to address your concerns regarding COVID-19 and its impact on NYC tour guides. Many of you have had clients and groups cancel their plans for travel to NYC and have experienced a major loss of income. Others are concerned about cancellations yet to come, and smaller numbers on regularly scheduled public tours. I sincerely hope you retain most of your groups and your work as we move into the busy student travel season. I have been in contact with Ellen Malasky, President of the NFTGA (National Federation of Tourist Guides Associations), and I will contact the US Travel Association. Both the NFTGA and USTA are following guidelines issued by the US government, namely domestic travel is still safe. In addition, the Industry Relations Committee has been in touch with NYC & Co., which continues to advocate for travelers to come to New York and has assured GANYC they will continue to advocate for the tourism industry with government agencies.
IMPORTANT INFORMATIONAL LINKS:
Here is a link to the CDC website on travel.
Here are statements from USTA (US Travel Association)
Here is the COVID-19 information page from NYC & Co.
We do not have any news about government assistance being offered to NYC tour guides who have lost income due to COVID-19. In order to be prepared for applying for potential government assistance we ask all guides who have had cancellations to fill in the form posted by GANYC to collect tour cancellation data. Please fill out this form as it relates to any and all travel in NYC. Please feel free to pass this form on to other guides and tour operators who have been affected – we want this to be as comprehensive as possible, so we are not limiting this just to GANYC guides. Over-the-road guides should also complete the form if their itineraries have been changed to avoid travel in NYC. We will use the collected data to ask for assistance should the situation get worse. It is very important to keep detailed records of your cancelled tours and lost income so you can apply and hopefully qualify for any government assistance that may be offered. We plan to update the results of this survey on a weekly basis.
The Mayor’s office has announced that “businesses with less than 100 employees which can document a decrease in sales of up to 25 percent would be eligible for no-interest loans of as much $75,000. Those with under five employees could receive grants of up to $6,000 to help retain workers." As of now there are no details about how to apply for such grants.
I have been closely following the news from the CDC, the states of New York and New Jersey, and from New York City. It is virtually guaranteed there will be an exponential spike in the number of reported cases of infection in our region as more testing takes place, and as the virus spreads through community transmission.
Older (50+) people and those with compromised immune systems or severe chronic conditions are more susceptible to COVID-19. Younger patients and children appear to have milder forms of the illness. The best ways to protect yourself include frequent and careful hand washing, covering your mouth and nose when your cough or sneeze, cleaning surfaces often, no hand shaking, and avoiding touching your eyes, lips, and nose with unwashed hands. If you have a fever, cough and shortness of breath, please stay home and call your doctor ASAP.
Here is a link to the CDC page on COVID-19.
The GANYC Board is working hard to stay up to date with any new information or guidelines, and as we receive any news, we will pass it on to the guiding community. GANYC guides are a close group (albeit not too close these days...) and we are here for each other. We will get through this crisis the same way we have gotten through others—by continuing to be the same smart, generous, and caring New Yorkers we have always been. Our city is still open for business, we will still offer great tours and great customer service, and while we may not be shaking hands for a while, we will still welcome visitors with metaphorical open arms.
As always, please do not hesitate to contact me with any comments or questions.
Emma and the GANYC Board
Emma Guest-Consales, Ph.D.
President, Guides Association of New York City