Marriott Begins Furloughing Tens of Thousands of Employees

March 17, 2020 Updated: March 17, 2020
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Marriott, the world’s largest hotel company, told several media outlets on Tuesday that it would furlough tens of thousands of employees as the company struggles amid the coronavirus pandemic.

A spokesperson for the firm didn’t say exactly how many workers would be furloughed. The firm is expected to close numerous locations around the globe to curb the spread of the virus.

The spokesperson told the Wall Street Journal that there have been no layoffs at the corporate level, but it’s “under discussion.” Another spokesperson told Bloomberg News and the WSJ that employees can keep their health benefits for now.

Marriott Chief Executive Officer Arne Sorenson and MGM Resorts International CEO James Murren are expected to meet with Trump administration officials Tuesday at the White House.

The firm told the paper it will bring back as many of the employees as soon as possible—when the coronavirus outbreak is contained and business operations return to normal.

The company confirmed, meanwhile, that around 130,000 employees are on the payroll. It’s not clear if all of them will be on furlough.

Marriott isn’t the only travel-related company that is suffering during the outbreak, which first emerged in China late last year, as governments have issued travel bans and other restrictions to curb its spread.

Marriott has not immediately responded to requests for comment.

A number of local hotels and motels have announced in recent days that they would close and lay employees off amid the coronavirus outbreak.

On Sunday night, MGM Resorts and Wynn Las Vegas said they are shutting Las Vegas locations over the virus, which causes the COVID-19 disease.

MGM Resorts said in a statement it is temporarily suspending casino operations indefinitely, starting Tuesday. Wynn Las Vegas said it would shut down its Wynn and Encore locations, starting Tuesday.

Popular restaurant chains like McDonald’s and Starbucks announced they are limiting their restaurants to carry-out or drive-through. In several states, all restaurants and bars have been closed and can only provide drive-through, delivery, or takeout.

President Donald Trump on Monday issued guidance that Americans should avoid gatherings of 10 or more people, adding that the outbreak could last until July or even August.

“If everyone makes this change, or these critical changes and sacrifices now, we will rally together as one nation and we will defeat the virus,” Trump said in a news conference. “We’re going to have a big celebration altogether.”

The White House’s latest guidance advises Americans to avoid drinking and eating at bars, restaurants, and other food establishments. Trump also recommended against most social visits, including visiting nursing and retirement homes.