Santa Clarita businesses respond to coronavirus concerns

The Princess Cruise Lines office is located at the Westfield Valencia Town Center. Bobby Block/The Signal
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Amid growing concerns about the spread of coronavirus, or COVID-19, local businesses now have to decide the best courses of action moving forward.

“These changes will cause real stress, especially for families and businesses least equipped financially to deal with them,” said Gov. Gavin Newsom in a news release issued Wednesday. “The state of California is working closely with businesses who will feel the economic shock of these changes, and we are mobilizing every level of government to help families as they persevere through this global health crisis.”

Earlier this week, the Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corp. had to make the decision to cancel its annual Economic Outlook Forecast due to the ongoing health concerns, a decision President and CEO Holly Schroeder said was made with the advice of public health experts.

“First and foremost, people need to pay attention to the public health crisis and the advice of your public health experts,” she said. “Though the recommendations around social distancing and avoiding large gatherings will be difficult in the immediate term, it will be the best way to put this public health crisis behind us and minimize the long-term economic detriment for our businesses.”

SCV Chamber of Commerce spokesman John Musella agreed completely, adding that the chamber is hosting a teleconference to provide the latest information on COVID-19 for businesses with information about business continuity planning.

“The chamber wants to ensure that we continue to provide valuable resources to our members and the business community,” Musella said. “We are working quickly to arrange this teleconference with experts and health officials for early next week as this situation rapidly evolves.”

Though both Schroeder and Musella believe it is too early to speculate the full impact this worldwide health concern will have on the economy, there is no doubt it will have some sort of effect.

“I think the level of uncertainty that this novel coronavirus has introduced into our country and community has people scared, and in moments like this, people may retrench a little bit, especially after the declaration of this virus as a pandemic by the World Health Organization,” Schroeder added. “It’s hard to know what the impacts are going to be right now.”

Many businesses in the SCV have already begun preparing by increasing sanitation efforts, such as Six Flags Magic Mountain, which is set to remain open as scheduled.

“The health and safety of our guests and employees is our highest priority,” a statement from the park read. “Like other public venues, we continue to monitor the situation and follow guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We have significantly enhanced our sanitation efforts with the primary focus on public areas.”

Six Flags is encouraging guests and employees to practice good hygiene by ensuring they have access to preventative measures. More antibacterial soap and alcohol-based hand sanitizers can be found throughout all areas of the park, especially in restrooms, food locations and employee break areas.

Other large companies, including both Walmart and Target, have already released similar statements, ensuring customers that sanitation is a top priority.

“On top of our daily cleaning procedures, we’re adding hours to each store’s payroll to make our routines even more rigorous,” a statement from Target read. “This means more time will be spent cleaning our stores, including cleaning surfaces, like check lanes and touchscreens, at least every 30 minutes.”

Other businesses have decided to completely shut down some operations in an abundance of caution, like Santa Clarita-based Princess Cruise Lines, which announced that it is voluntarily pausing global operations of its 18 cruise ships for 60 days.

“By taking this bold action of voluntarily pausing the operations of our ships, it is our intention to reassure our loyal guests, team members and global stakeholders of our commitment to the health, safety and well-being of all who sail with us, as well as those who do business with us, and the countries and communities we visit around the world,” Jan Swartz, president of Princess Cruises, said in a prepared statement Thursday.

The two-month suspension is expected to impact voyages departing now until May 10, while those currently on a cruise that will end in the next five days are set to continue to sail as expected through the end of the itinerary so that onward travel arrangements are not disrupted, and voyages that extend beyond Tuesday are set to end early.

For more information on Princess Cruises’ cancelations, visit bit.ly/2U2xZtz.

The SCV Chamber of Commerce’s Teleconference: COVID-19 Update & Business Continuity is scheduled 2 p.m. Tuesday. If interested in participating, email [email protected] to be added to the list.

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