How does Covid-19 affect people in the service industry?
The lockdown measure hits the service industry severely around the world, what struggles did people working in this industry have been through and how they work out it?
The outbreak of the Covid -19 hits the service industry severely including the cruise industry and aviation industry around the world. Besides, the lockdown measure enables workers in the public service to become the few people to work outside in China.
People in the Cruise ships
“My company had bought me a ticket to fly back home on 12 April, but the flight was cancelled,” says Alex Tan, a staff working in the Norweigian cruise ships.
Tan has worked in the cruise for three years travelling around the world because of his work. He worked as usual in the cruise during the lockdown of China in the United States of America.
“The virus has not spread to the US at the early January, so we sail and continue to accept the clients,” says Tan.
Things changed suddenly at the end of February when the US found the first confirmed-case of Covid-19 when the situation in China was under control.
The outbreak of Covid-19 confirmed cases in the cruise ships such as “the Red Princess” in Australia and “Diamond Princess” in Japan further lead to the cruise industry taken a hit.
On 12 March, the Norweigian company announced to stop cruising and evacuate all the customers, then Tan’s ship docked at Mexico for around half a month due to the uncertain situation in Los Angeles.
“But we were lucky because there was a cruise ship that was not allowed to dock in any bay of Australia, they floated on the ocean with about 800 customers for more than 15 days,” laughs Tan. “All the clients changed their attitudes from anxiety to patience- at least they were in the closed place, it was safer than staying on the land.”
The confirmed cases of the cruise around the world went worse, so the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said no more cruise movement, which means that the whole staff team from all around the world including Tan cannot leave the cruise ships.
The ship cancelled all the entertaining activities like dancing class and gym for the staff to follow the social distancing in the ship.
“There is a limited number to enter the restaurants and testing temperature before staff go in, every table could only have four people,” says Tan.
Except for staff in the kitchen and restaurants work as it used to be, the workload of other staff shrinks to less than two hours, but the company stills need to pay for 80% of salary that increasing the burden of the cruise industry.
Mark Kempa, the CFO of the Norwegian Cruise Holdings, said in a recent company earnings conference call that the new crown epidemic would reduce expected earnings per share by $ 0.75 in 2020.
The cruise ship which used to be full of people and music becomes empty and quiet now.
The family of Tan worry about him, but there is nothing they can do to change the situation, especially in this challenging time.
“But fortunately, we have contacted the Chinese embassy in the Los Angeles, and they promise that they will provide us with essential protective equipment such face mask and medicines, which makes me feel safe in this foreign country,” says Tan.
People in the Aviation industry
In early February, Alice Ye, a staff who has worked in a foreign aviation company for four years, encountered an unexpected experience.
“It was my turn to follow the flight from another city of China to Shenzhen as a flight attendant, normally I do not need to work in the flight as I am an officer in the office,” says Ye. “We have been told that there was Covid-19 recovered patient on the plane.”
Ye and her colleagues did their work as normal as they believed that there was a lower risk. But when they arrived at the destination, the testing result of the patient switched to negative.
“We all felt speechless as we were more concerned that the airline may ground the flight rather than the personal safety,” says Ye.
Passengers who sat close to the patient have all been tested immediately and quarantined in a designated hotel. Related sanitation workers decontaminated the whole plane right away.
However, the company eventually decided to cancel the whole flight like what Ye and her colleagues worried before.
The aviation industry of the world is facing a severe challenge under the threat of the spread of Covid-19.
According to recent data released by the International Air Transport Association, Airline passenger revenue may plummet by the US $ 314 billion in 2020, falling down to 55% due to the impact of the pandemic.
The association had predicted that if strict travel restrictions lasted for 3 months, income would be 44% lower than last year. 25 million jobs in global aviation and related industries will be threatened.
“If the Korea government did not approve the grant, the company I serve may go bust in the middle of April like the other foreign aviation companies,” says Ye. “But we are lucky that my company has received financial aid.”
“Everything is uncertain because of the Covid-19, we are not sure about what will happen next time, and this makes me more anxious than facing the threat of the pandemic,” adds Ye.
People in the Local community of China
“I have never seen such quiet and empty streets in my life,” says An Hong 65, working in the local community of China. She is going to retire at the end of this year.
An Hong is a member of the Communist Party who has been working in the local community for up to 10 years.
“We were informed that all the staff of local community should go out to visit every family who live in this community to check their current situation and routine in the past two weeks,” says An.
Yulin, the city where An is living, had announced lockdown since 2nd February, citizens were not allowed to wander outside except for people who work in the public service such as community staff and police officers.
“There was one confirmed-case in my block, a middle-aged woman who just came back from Singapore,” says An. “She lived with her family several days after travelling from Singapore without any symptoms and I have been to her house to check their daily routine, but she was not there that time.”
“As they are not allowed to go out, even simply throwing away garbage, our duty was to help them purchase personal necessities and deal with household garbage,” explains An.
Every time community staff came close to that house, they needed to wear protective equipment including eyes protectors, two pairs of gloves, booties and layer after layer of gowns.
“We had to take it seriously because nobody knew clearly what the specific route of transmission of the Covid-19 was at the beginning of the outbreak,” says An.
Fortunately, the patient was recovered and none of her family was infected.
Although now, the situation in China is getting better day by day, An and her colleagues cannot let their guard down. They continue to visit a certain number of families in the community every week and carry out other testing activities.
“To be honest, we all still are in fear of contacting so many people closely, even though the worst time of pandemic in China has passed,” says An.
An is over 60 years old as well as some of her colleagues. Their families worry about their safety. “my family even asks me to retire early this year,” An says.
But she said that she will continue to work till the time she has to retire.
“I am just an ordinary officer in the local community, not like those doctors or people in the health service, they are risking their lives to save lives, all I can do is to get on with my duties,” says An.
An is going to do Nucleic acid test in the middle of May, which is free and has popularized to the whole society in China.
“I do it to reassure my family and myself, and the whole testing process is quick and easy, so why not?” says An with a naughty smile.