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Businesses Step Up To Soften Economic Blow Of Wuhan Virus

Disney Coronavirus
In one of the under-reported stories of the Wuhan virus economic crisis, businesses large and small have stepped up to help soften the economic blow to their employees and a public stressed by the disruption of their everyday lives.

One of the most notable examples of this under-reported story is the decision of the Miami Heat basketball franchise and their venue, American Airlines Arena, to keep paying employees during the coronavirus game suspension.

Earlier this week, the Miami Heat and American Airlines Arena unveiled their plans for team and arena part-time employees who will be affected by the sports shutdown caused by the new coronavirus pandemic.

The Heat say they will pay not only their own employees but those from partner companies such as Levy Restaurants (the arena's food and beverage concessionaire), Contemporary Services Corporation (which provides security) and Pritchard Sports and Entertainment (the arena's housekeeping provider).

The Micky & Madeleine Arison Family Foundation will also donate an additional $1 million to the Miami Heat Charitable Fund, money that the team says will ''establish an initiative designed specifically for employees and/or other community needs as they arise in the coming months.''

Heat Business Operations President Eric Woolworth says the 1,000 or so part-time employees ''are the backbone of our business. Night in and night out, every single one of these employees works tirelessly to provide our guests and our community with the best experience in sports and entertainment. They deserve our help as we all navigate this unpredictable situation together.''

Walt Disney has also made the decision to pay all cast members (its designation for theme park, hotel, and cruise line employees) through the announced shutdown.

Disney took to social media to lay out the timeline of the closure, which will be in effect through the end of March. In that post, the company said, "The Walt Disney Company will pay its cast members during that closure period."

According to Daniel B. Kline of The Motley Fool, most theme park workers making an hourly wage are not highly paid. The same is true for hotel and cruise line workers. Many of those people are likely one missed paycheck away from serious financial concerns. By paying its employees, Disney is doing them a major service and helping them stay afloat until they can get back to work.

Orlando-based Darden Restaurants revealed it has an emergency plan to pay all of its employees through the coronavirus pandemic that has forced many businesses to close.

The company’s restaurant brands include Olive Garden, The Capital Grille, Seasons 52, Bahama Breeze, Longhorn Steakhouse, Yard House and Eddie V’s Prime Seafood.

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak the Darden Board plans to withdraw on its $750 million credit.

“The health and safety of our team members, their families and our guests remains our top priority,” Lee said. “We are committed to supporting our team members during this unprecedented time and are pleased to have an emergency pay program to supplement our permanent paid sick leave policy for all of our hourly team members.”

Chief Financial Officer Rick Cardenas said the company will have approximately $1 billion cash on hand to weather the uncertain times.

According to WKMG News 6 Darden operates more than 1,700 restaurants and employs more than 180,000 people.

But giant sports franchises, restaurant and entertainment companies aren’t the only businesses stepping up to help.

In Beamsville, Ontario Canada, Dillon’s Small Batch Distillers began producing hand sanitizer and donating it to Niagara Police, health care workers and meals on wheels volunteers.

Geoff Dillon started using alcohol and store-bought aloe to make the free hand sanitizer and in five days distributed 3,000 bottles to police officers, front-line health-care workers, Meals on Wheels and Hamilton (Ontario) paramedics, among others.

After he ran out of aloe, he began providing bottles of 65 per cent alcohol, which works as a disinfectant.

In a statement released exclusively to CHQ Mr. Dillon said, “We did this all on our own as a way to help. We have today began talks with government to see what can be done to work together to increase production and access for more.”

DC distiller Cotton & Reed has also stepped into the hand sanitizer business. In a tweet the distiller announced: Meet the newest member of the Cotton & Reed family: Hand Sanitizer. We’re here at the open window handing out groceries and sanitizer to affected service industry members in need as part of @friendsandfamilymeal.

Trying to keep their private sector employees working while much of DC is shut down, Cotton & Reed is also now doing a carry out rum and hand sanitizer combo, tweeting: We got what you need. Stop by for to-go bottles of rum and hand sanitizer from 12-4. To everyone who has already stopped by the distillery or website to support us, you are incredible. Thank you.

And thank you to these and the many other private companies that stepped up to assist in mitigating the economic consequences of the coronavirus economic panic.

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