Hope for the hospitality industry as Dane Co. enters phase 2 of reopening

Published: Jun. 15, 2020 at 10:33 PM CDT
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Entering phase two of Dane County’s reopening plan means the local tourism industry has opportunity to recover. COVID closings continue to have a dramatic impact but phase two brings some hope for hospitality.

Hotel Ruby Marie brands itself as one of Madison’s oldest operating hotels. Managing Inn Keeper, Joshua Paffel says they are usually at 80 percent occupancy this time of year but in the past month, they haven’t reached 10 percent occupancy.

Paffel says he is hopeful phase two brings more business. “I can already see it happening. Reservations are starting to come in, people are doing more direct bookings by calling because they do want to check if procedures are in place,” said Paffel.

The hotel says it has precautions in place including increased cleaning, gaps between guests, and following the newest information on the virus.

Phase two of Dane County’s reopening plan allows all businesses to operate at 50 percent capacity. Zach Brandon, President of the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce says phase one guidelines didn’t work for every business. “25 percent capacity didn't make sense for every business…some couldn't make it work financially, some couldn’t pay their employees,” said Brandon.

Both the Chamber and Destination Madison say the easing of restrictions encourages locals to get out and enjoy the area, which helps businesses get back on their feet.

“A lot of our tourism in Madison is based on conventions but as those become impossible to pull off,” Brandon says finding ways to enhance individual or family-based tourism from the region will be a step in the right direction.

Destination Madison says it’s encouraging to see progress that allows us to enter phase two. “The expansion means visitors and residents will have more opportunities to safely experience some of the food and activities that are at the heart of Madison’s vibe,” said Rob Gard.

Locals are encouraged to continue to support local businesses safely.