Visitors wearing face masks to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, take a selfie at the Hong Kong Disneyland on Thursday, June 18, 2020. Hong Kong Disneyland on Thursday opened its doors to visitors for the first time in nearly five months, at a reduced capacity and with social distancing measures in place. The theme park closed temporarily at the end of January due to the coronavirus outbreak, and is the second Disney-themed park to re-open worldwide, after Shanghai Disneyland. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

Hong Kong Disneyland reopens, consumers using less cash

June 18, 2020 - 4:53 pm

The outbreak of the coronavirus has dealt a shock to the global economy with unprecedented speed. Following are developments Thursday related to the national and global response, the work place and the spread of the virus.

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TRAVEL & LEISURE:

— Hong Kong Disneyland officially reopened on Thursday after a major drop in coronavirus cases in the Chinese territory. Advance reservations will be required and only limited attendance will be allowed at the park, one of the pillars of Hong Kong’s crucial tourism industry.

Social distancing measures are being implemented in lines, at restaurants, on rides and at shops, while cleaning and disinfecting will be increased. Visitors will have their temperatures checked at the entrance and will be required to wear masks at all times inside the park, except when eating and drinking.

Disney is planning to reopen its parks in California and Florida next month.

— U.S. state and local tax revenue from hotels will drop an estimated $16.8 billion this year, according to a report released Thursday by the American Hotel and Lodging Association.

The report — conducted by Oxford Economics — said California, New York, Florida and Nevada will be hardest hit, with each losing more than $1 billion in hotel occupancy taxes and gaming taxes. U.S. hotels generated $40 billion in state and local tax revenue in 2018. The association says leisure travel is slowly resuming, but business travel isn’t expected to ramp up until 2022.

— Delta Air Lines says more than 40,000 of its 91,000 employees have agreed to take unpaid leave of up to a year, which along with a “moderate” increase in ticket sales is helping the airline cut its cash burn rate to $30 million a day by the end of this month. That is $10 million a day less than Delta forecast a week ago.

Delta has raised more than $14 billion in financing and expects to have $10 billion in available funds by year end. U.S. airlines face layoffs when federal payroll aid runs out in October unless air travel rebounds.

— Carnival's revenue nosedived in the second quarter as it was unable to sail any cruises.

The company hasn't sailed any cruises since mid-March. For the quarter, the cruise operator reported an adjusted loss of $2.38 billion on revenue of $700 million. A year earlier it had an adjusted profit of $457 million on revenue of $4.8 billion.

Carnival anticipates a phased resumption of its cruises, but doesn’t have a specific start date. The company expects that initial sailings will be from a select number of easily accessible homeports.

— The virus outbreak has officially ended the long run of job growth at U.S. airlines. The Transportation Department said Thursday that employment at the nation’s largest 23 passenger airlines fell 6.7% from mid-March to mid-April, and dropped 4% or 18,000 jobs, from a year earlier. It was the first time in seven years that airline jobs fell compared with a year earlier.

CONSUMER SPENDING: Consumers are increasingly moving away from cash and opting for contact-free and digital payment experiences, according to a study by Mastercard.

Globally, almost seven in 10 consumers say the shift to digital payments will likely be permanent, and nearly half of consumers plan to use cash less, even after the pandemic subsides, according to a Mastercard weekly survey launched April 27.

Online spending in the U.S. grew by 93% year-over-year in May, according to Mastercard SpendingPulse, which measures retail sales across all payment types including cash and check.

CENTRAL GOVERNMENTS & BANKS:

— Greece’s government has announced a new system of fines and penalties for businesses that are found to be violating regulations imposed to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

Under details published Thursday in the government gazette, fines for violations will range from 1,000 euros to 50,000 euros ($1,125 to $56,240). For bars and restaurants, offending businesses will be shut down for 15 days for the first violation, 30 days for the second violation and 60 days for the third if all three violations occur within three months.

Other retail businesses face similar penalties, with the amount of the fines varying in accordance to whether the violation is the first, and according to the size of the business.

— The Spanish government has announced an economic assistance plan of more than 4.2 billion euros ($4.7 billion) for the nation’s tourism industry.

Tourism generates 12% of Spain’s GDP and provides 2.6 million jobs.

The aid package aims to help the tourism industry improve its health standards and offer direct lines of credit to failing companies, among other measures.

MARKETS: Stocks on Wall Street ended little changed Thursday as rising infection levels of the coronavirus clash with hopes for a coming economic recovery.

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