Container ships stretch far out into the Pacific, waiting days for their turn to unload goods at California ports. Automakers pause production because they can’t get enough of the computer chips that make a modern car work. Long-dormant restaurants finally see a surge of customer demand, but they can’t find enough cooks.
These are all headlines of recent days, and they have one thing in common: They show how America’s great economic challenge has turned 180 degrees in a breathtakingly short time.
Just a few months ago, the nation faced an enormous shortage of demand for goods and services, which threatened to prolong the pandemic-induced downturn long beyond the point at which the virus was contained. The central economic problem of 2021 is looking like the polar opposite. Businesses are beginning to face the challenge of producing adequate supplies of goods and services — whether of lumber or of cold beer — to satiate that resurgent demand.
Huge swaths of the economy shut down last spring and are now being turned back on. But as roughly three million Americans are vaccinated per day and nearly $3 trillion in federal money courses through the economy, it is an open question how long it will take businesses to get up to speed. Their collective success or failure will determine whether this is a year of Goldilocks economic conditions, or a frustrating mix of price spikes and persistent shortages.
idled the factory that makes its popular F-150 trucks, for example. Over all, analysts at IHS Markit forecast one million fewer vehicles will be made in the first quarter of 2021 because of the disruptions. That means American consumers who want to put their new stimulus checks toward a car may face fewer options and have little negotiating leverage on price.
The labor market, meanwhile, presents a paradox. The unemployment rate, at 6 percent, is far above its prepandemic level, and the job market is even worse if you include Americans who say they are no longer looking for work. Yet many employers, especially in restaurants and related service industries, describe a shortage of labor.
research on earlier rounds of expanded benefits, which found that a shortage of job opportunities was a bigger factor in joblessness than people staying on unemployment benefits.
The combination of a surge in demand and disruptions in the economy’s supply has important global dimensions, too. Many businesses rely on imports, including from countries that are far behind the United States in vaccinating their people, and in some cases facing new outbreaks.
Moreover, the backup in container ships at the Port of Los Angeles and some other American ports, especially on the West Coast, shows the world trade system has continued to be stressed by the whipsaw effect of last year’s shutdowns followed by surging demand.
“There are companies that have changed the way they operate from before the pandemic and are more digitally enabled, and reopening is not as big a deal for them,” said James Manyika, a partner at McKinsey Global Institute, the in-house research arm of the giant consultancy. “The problem is those are not the majority of companies, and those other companies will find they are highly dependent on their ecosystems and their supply chains.”
You can’t turn the world economy off, then turn it back on, and expect everything to come back to normal instantly, in other words. The question for 2021 is just how slow that rebooting process turns out to be.
As Covid-19 vaccinations have picked up and more businesses reopen across the country, Easter weekend saw a resurgence of tourist activity in some cities, perhaps indicating a turning point for the struggling tourism industry.
Chip Rogers, the president and chief operating officer for the American Hotel & Lodging Association, the trade organization for the hospitality industry, said that before last weekend, recovery had been “very regionalized,” with places like Florida and Texas doing well and “cities that thrive on large meetings and conventions like a Chicago, Orlando, Las Vegas” struggling to recover.
“You’re seeing really good pickup over the weekend dates, which have now extended. Traditionally they’re Friday to Sunday, now it’s Thursday to Monday,” he said, referring to the increase in leisure travel. But the lack ofbusiness travel means weekday bookings continue to lag. Still, he added, there’s reason for “cautious optimism.”
But travelers, even those who are fully vaccinated, should practice caution while visiting some states, health experts warn. Case numbers are going up in some popular destinations, like Florida, which saw a spike as revelers flocked there during spring break. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still recommends that people continue to wear masks, social distance and frequently wash their hands, even though some local governments have relaxed or lifted these rules.
Mila Miami, a restaurant in Miami Beach, many have traveled from out of state for extended stays — particularly from places like Los Angeles, New York and Chicago — which he said “has enabled the business to pick up customers that we wouldn’t have.”
This influx proved problematic over spring break, when police officers in riot gear used pepper balls to enforce an emergency curfew and disperse revelers ignoring social distancing and mask regulations.
During the weekend of March 28 to April 3, Miami “saw its highest occupancy level since the start of the pandemic, with most hotels reporting upward of 75 percent occupancy levels,” said Suzie Sponder, a spokeswoman for the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau. That’s only a 6.6 percent drop from the same weekend in 2019.
Ms. Sponder added that the average room rate for the weekend was $282.29, up 25 percent from 2019. And Mr. Rogers, of the American Hotel & Lodging Association, said that revenue, which is still down across the board, is the best indicator of the industry’s recovery, noting that Miami’s strong numbers are the exception rather than the rule.
In the tourism industry, “you still have a lot of folks that are out of work,” he said, “because it’s those large, city center urban hotels that employ the most people, because they have those extensive food and beverage operations that are not working right now. That’s where most job loss is occurring.”
Circa Resort & Casino. “It’s like trying to book a dinner reservation on New Year’s Eve. It’s not something you do the day before.” Spots at the pools at his establishments, which include two other hotels, are booked a month in advance because of reduced capacity limits and social distancing, which he said shows that there is demand for leisure travel. Hotels and other venues in the city are limited to 50 percent capacity.
Though the weekend of Easter is, historically, the second slowest weekend in the city, this year was different because of March Madness, the annual N.C.A.A. basketball tournaments. “Everything was packed to the restricted capacity level,” he said. “On Saturday, all of our venues were filled by 10 a.m. because of Final Four. I think that was the case throughout all of Las Vegas.”
Mr. Stevens said that since the Super Bowl, in February, there have been indications that the tourism industry in Vegas is recovering, adding that his three hotels have been sold out every weekend since. “I’ve never seen booking at the rate of what we’ve seen in the past three months or so. This is the strongest booking that I’ve ever experienced,” he said.
But there continues to be a dip during weekdays because of the lack of conferences or conventions. “What we’re seeing is enormous pent-up demand for leisure travel that while it’s going to take place throughout the entire summer, does not necessarily mean that business travel will follow suit,” he said.
NewOrleans.com planning a trip in the next three months. Ms. Schulz notes that she is “optimistic about the fourth quarter of 2021 with a convention and festival schedule.”
Though leisure travel over the summer is expected to keep the industry afloat, Mr. Rogers said business travel will need to pick back up in order to restore the industry to 2019 levels.
“While we’re optimistic, what we’re fearful of and concerned about is, what happens post-Labor Day when all of this leisure travel has passed?” he said. Business travel, he said, “is absolutely necessary if we’re going to survive.”
As the government prepared on Thursday to start taking applications for a $16 billion relief fund for music clubs, theaters and other live event businesses, thousands of desperate applicants waited eagerly to submit their paperwork right at noon, when the system was scheduled to open.
And then they waited. And waited. Nearly four hours later, the system was still not working at all, sending applicants into spasms of anxiety.
“This is an absolute disaster,” Eric Sosa, the owner of C’mon Everybody, a club in Brooklyn, tweeted at the agency. In social media forums and Zoom calls, frustrated applicants banded together to vent and share their anger.
The Small Business Administration, which runs the initiative, the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program, attributed the problems to “a technical issue” that it said it was working to address.
the same thing happened again, weeks later, when a new round of funding became available.
Applicants for the grant program were incredulous that the agency was not better prepared — especially because the funds are to be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. Those who get their applications in early have the best chance of getting aid before the money runs out.
“It pits venues against each other because we’re all mad-dashing for this,” Mr. Sosa said in an interview. “And it shouldn’t be that way. We’re all a community.”
For businesses like Crowbar, a music club in Tampa, Fla., getting a grant is a matter of survival. Tom DeGeorge, Crowbar’s primary owner, took out more than $200,000 in personal loans to keep the business afloat after it shut down last year, including one using its liquor license as collateral.
More than a year later, the club has reopened with a smattering of events at reduced capacities, but the business still operates in the red, Mr. DeGeorge said in an interview.
months of lobbying by an ad hoc coalition of music venues and other groups that warned of the loss of an entire sector of the arts economy.
For music venues in particular, the last year has been a scramble to remain afloat, with the proprietors of local clubs running crowdfunding campaigns, selling T-shirts and racking their brains for any creative way to raise funds. For the holidays, the Subterranean club in Chicago, for example, agreed to place the names of patrons on its marquee for donations of $250 or more.
“It’s been the busiest year,” Robert Gomez, the primary owner of Subterranean, said in an interview. “But it’s all been about, ‘Where am I going to get funding from?’”
sent out an alert warning of “serious concerns” with the program’s waste and fraud controls. The Small Business Administration’s current audit plan “exposes billions of dollars to potential misuse of funds,” the inspector general wrote in a report.
Successful applicants will receive a grant equal to 45 percent of their gross earned revenue from 2019, up to $10 million. Those who lost 90 percent of their revenue (compared to the prior year) after the coronavirus pandemic took hold will have a 14-day priority window for receiving the money, followed by another 14-day period for those who lost 70 percent or more. If any funds remain after that, they will then go to applicants who had a 25 percent sales loss in at least one quarter of 2020. Venues owned by large corporations, like Live Nation or AEG, are not eligible.
The application process is extensive, with detailed questions about venues’ budgets, staff and equipment.
“They want to make sure you’re not just setting up a piano in the corner of an Italian restaurant and calling yourself a music venue,” said Blayne Tucker, a lawyer for several music spaces in Texas.
many dry months before touring and live events return at anything like prepandemic levels.
The grant program also offers help for Broadway theaters, performing arts centers and even zoos, which share many of the same economic struggles.
The Pablo Center at the Confluence, in Eau Claire, Wis., for example, was able to raise about $1 million from donations and grants during the pandemic, yet is still $1.2 million short on its annual fixed operating expenses, said Jason Jon Anderson, its executive director.
“By the time we open again, October 2021 at the earliest, we will have been shuttered longer than we had been open,” he added. (The center opened in 2018, at a cost of $60 million.)
The thousands of small clubs that dot the national concert map lack access to major donors and, in many cases, have been surviving on fumes for months.
Stephen Chilton, the owner of the 300-capacity Rebel Lounge in Phoenix, said he had taken out “a few hundred thousand” in loans to keep the club afloat. In October, it reopened with a pop-up coffee shop inside, and the club hosts some events, like trivia contests and open mic shows.
“We’re losing a lot less than we were losing when we were completely closed,” Mr. Chilton said, “but it’s not making up for the lost revenue from doing events.”
The Rebel Lounge hopes that a grant will help it survive until it can bring back a full complement of concerts. And if its application is not accepted?
There won’t be the traditional, grand closing-night performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, with its stage full of singers. In fact, to reduce the risk of aerosol transmission of the coronavirus, there will be no vocal music at all at Tanglewood this summer.
But there will still be a lot of Beethoven, along with crowd-pleasing tributes to the composer John Williams and familiar guests like Emanuel Ax, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Joshua Bell and Yo-Yo Ma.
Tanglewood, the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s warm-weather home in the Berkshires, announced in March that after remaining closed last year because of the pandemic, it would open this summer for a six-week season — about half the usual length — with limited crowds and distancing requirements. On Thursday, the orchestra filled in the programming: heavy on appearances by its music director, Andris Nelsons, and with a focus on Beethoven, whose 250th birthday last year was muted because of widespread concert cancellations.
Nelsons will lead eight orchestral programs, including a Beethoven opener on July 10 featuring the “Emperor” Piano Concerto, with Ax as soloist, and the Fifth Symphony. On July 23, the Boston Pops will honor Williams, who turns 90 next year and is the Pops’ laureate conductor; the following evening, Mutter gives the premiere of his Violin Concerto No. 2, and on Aug. 13 Williams shares the podium for a night of film music. On July 30, the violinist Leonidas Kavakos does Beethoven trios with Ax and Ma, who also plays with the Boston Symphony under Karina Canellakis on Aug. 8. (Details are available at bso.org.)
that began with great fanfare in 2019. The orchestra will host a two-day version of its annual Festival of Contemporary Music, July 25-26.
The Knights, a chamber orchestra, will be joined on July 9 by the jazz and classical pianist Aaron Diehl for Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” and selections from Mary Lou Williams’s “Zodiac Suite.” Among the Boston Symphony’s guest conductors will be Thomas Adès (the orchestra’s artistic partner), Alan Gilbert, Anna Rakitina and Herbert Blomstedt; soloists include the pianists Daniil Trifonov, Jean-Yves Thibaudet and Kirill Gerstein, and the violinists Baiba Skride and Lisa Batiashvili.
The Tanglewood season is part of the nationwide thawing planned for this summer of a performing arts scene that has been largely frozen for over a year. The Public Theater has announced that its venerable Shakespeare in the Park will go forward, as will Santa Fe Opera and the Glimmerglass Festival in upstate New York. On Thursday, the Aspen Music Festival and School in Colorado said it would move forward with a nearly two-month season.
But as they reopen, institutions are reckoning with sharp losses. As it celebrated the return of Tanglewood, the Boston Symphony said its current operating budget was $57.7 million, down from its prepandemic budget of over $100 million. The orchestra estimated that it has lost over $50 million in revenue in the last year.
Over the course of the pandemic, some of the most dangerous activities were those many Americans dearly missed: scarfing up nachos, canoodling with a date or yelling sports scores at a group of friends at a crowded, sticky bar inside a restaurant.
Now, as more states loosen restrictions on indoor dining and expand access to vaccines, restaurant employees — who have morphed from cheerful facilitators of everyone’s fun to embattled frontline workers — are scrambling to protect themselves against the new slosh of business.
“It’s been really stressful,” said Julia Piscioniere, a server at Butcher & Bee in Charleston. “People are OK with masks, but it is not like it was before. I think people take restaurants and their workers for granted. It’s taken a toll.”
The return to economic vitality in the United States is led by places to eat and drink, which also suffered among the highest losses in the last year. Balancing the financial benefits of a return to regular hours with worker safety, particularly in states where theoretical vaccine access outstrips actual supply, is the industry’s latest hurdle.
priority groups this spring. Immigrants, who make up a large segment of the restaurant work force, are often fearful of signing up, worrying that the process will legally entangle them.
Some states have dropped mask mandates and capacity limits inside establishments — which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still deem a potentially risky setting — further endangering employees.
“It is critical for food and beverage workers to have access to the vaccine, especially as patrons who come have no guarantee that they will be vaccinated and obviously will not be masked when eating or drinking,” said Dr. Alex Jahangir, the chairman of a coronavirus task force in Nashville. “This has been a major concern for me as we balance the competing interests of vaccinating everyone as soon as possible before more and more restrictions are lifted.”
Servers in Texas are dealing with all of the above. The state strictly limited early eligibility for shots, but last week opened access to all residents 16 and over, creating an overwhelming demand for slots. The governor recently dropped the state’s loosely enforced mask mandate, and allowed restaurants to go forth and serve all comers, with zero limitations.
require their workers be vaccinated in the future.
Many business sectors were battered by the coronavirus pandemic, but there is broad agreement that hospitality was hardest hit and that low wage workers sustained some of the biggest blows. In February 2020, for instance, restaurant worker hours were up 2 percent over a previously strong period the year before; two months later those hours were cut by more than half.
While hours and wages have recovered somewhat, the industry remains hobbled by rules that most other businesses — including airlines and retail stores — have not had to face. The reasons point to a sadly unfortunate reality that never changed: indoor dining, by nature of its actual existence, helped spread the virus.
report by the C.D.C. found that after mask and other restrictions were lifted, on-premise restaurants led to daily increase in cases and death rates between 40 and 100 days later. Although other settings have turned into super-spreading events — funerals, wedding and large indoor events — many community outbreaks have found their roots in restaurants and bars.
“Masks would normally help to protect people in indoor settings but because people remove masks when dining,” said Christine K. Johnson, professor of epidemiology and ecosystem health at the University of California, Davis, “there are no barriers to prevent transmission.”
Not all governments have viewed restaurant workers as “essential,” even as restaurants have been a very active part of the American food chains — from half-open sites to takeout operations to cooking for those in need — during the entire pandemic. The National Restaurant Association helped push the C.D.C. to recommend that food service workers be included in priority groups of workers to get vaccines although not all states followed the guidelines.
Almost every state in the nation has accelerated its vaccination program, targeting nearly all adult populations.
“Most people in our government have considered restaurants nonessential luxuries,” said Rick Bayless, the well-known Chicago restaurateur, whose staff scoured all vaccines sites for weeks to get workers shots. “I think that’s shortsighted. The human race is at its core social and when we deny that aspect of our nature, we do harm to ourselves. Restaurants provide that very essential service. It can be done safely, but to minimize the risk for our staff, we should be prioritized for vaccination.”
Texas did not designate as early vaccine recipients any workers beyond those in the health care and education sectors, but is now open to all.
the Breadfruit and Rum Bar, declined unemployment insurance, and have shied from signing up for a shot. “Before you can even make an appointment you have to put in your name and date of birth and email,” Ms. Leoni said. “Those are questions that are deterrents for people trying to keep a low profile.”
In Charleston, Mr. Shemtov was inspired by accounts of the immunization program in Israel, which was considered successful in part because the government took vaccines to job sites. “If people can’t get appointments, let’s bring them to them.”
Other restaurants are devoting hours to making sure workers know how to sign up, locating leftover shots and networking with their peers. Some offer time off for a shot and the recovery period for side effects.
Katie Button, the owner of Curate and La Bodega in Asheville, N.C.
Still, some owners are not taking chances. “If we go out of business because we are one of the few restaurants in Arizona that won’t reopen, so be it,” Ms. Leoni said. “Nothing is more important than someone else’s health or safety.”
California plans to lift all its coronavirus restrictions on June 15, provided there are enough Covid-19 vaccines available for anyone age 16 and older and hospitalizations remain low and stable, state officials announced on Tuesday.
The move in June will allow Californians to return to restaurants, bars, movie theaters, houses of worship and concerts without strict capacity limits for the first time in well more than a year. Other states have already eased health restrictions at a time when the Biden administration is pleading with them not make those changes just yet. The country is facing a fourth possible surge of the virus and there are concerns about spread of worrisome variants. The president has also said there will be enough vaccines available for all adults by the end of May.
“Too many Americans are acting as if this fight is over,” Mr. Biden said last week. “It is not.”
Cases in California have been on the decline since the peak early this year, as have the number of hospitalizations related to Covid-19 and deaths. As of Monday, 34 percent of the state’s total population has received at least one vaccine shot, and 18 percent are fully vaccinated, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“With more than 20 million vaccines administered across the state, it is time to turn the page on our tier system and begin looking to fully reopen California’s economy,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement. “We can now begin planning for our lives post-pandemic.”
in which reopening a vast economy can be much more complex, unequal and politically fraught than shutting one down.
The latest announcement will lift what state leaders have referred to as California’s “Blueprint for a Safer Economy,” which laid out a system of color-coded tiers of restrictions. As individual counties reached certain case thresholds, they were allowed to move through the tiers.
The tier system was first introduced in August, as the state grappled with an alarming rise in new cases. Mr. Newsom and other state leaders emphasized that the state needed to have the ability to quickly reimpose emergency measures if hospitals started to fill up.
Around Thanksgiving, there were signs of that happening. By December, hospitals — especially in hard hit areas, like Los Angeles — were overwhelmed with patients, and the state ordered Californians to stay at home again.
The coronavirus pandemic has dealt a devastating blow to performing arts institutions nationwide, closing their theaters and robbing them of ticket revenue. But for the New York Philharmonic and Lincoln Center, it has also offered a silver lining: the opportunity to accelerate the long-delayed renovation of David Geffen Hall.
With concerts in the hall canceled since March 2020, construction began in earnest over the past few months. Work is expected to continue for the next year and a half, with a reopening planned for fall 2022, the orchestra and center announced on Monday.
That is a year and a half ahead of schedule, though it comes with the trade-off that the Philharmonic will not be at Geffen for the wave of triumphant cultural homecomings expected around the country this fall, assuming the pandemic ebbs.
The orchestra will nevertheless still spend much of its coming season at Lincoln Center, with the majority of its performances at Alice Tully Hall or the Rose Theater. Though it plans to announce its full program in early June, Deborah Borda, the Philharmonic’s chief executive, said in a video interview with other orchestra and center leaders that she anticipated smaller-scale and intermissionless concerts, at least at first.
that jump-started the project in 2015.
“Through 2020, quite rightly, people’s minds were elsewhere, and we had lots of other challenges as organizations,” Timms said. “But once we got to the end of the year, the opportunity became clear: Could we do this sooner? That became a period in which a lot of people stepped up to support the project, because they saw it as a recovery story, a way to invest in the economic and human recovery of the city.”
The old plan had called for progression in stages to limit disruption to the Philharmonic, which would never have lost a full season in the hall. Katherine Farley, the chairwoman of Lincoln Center’s board, said the new timeline would not diminish the scope of the renovation, which aims to render the lackluster hall more aesthetically and acoustically appealing. Seating will wrap around the stage, which will be pulled forward 25 feet to what is currently Row J, bringing a greater sense of intimacy to what can feel like a cavernous shoe box. The new space will have about 2,200 seats, down from 2,738.
in a rented pickup truck for pop-up performances, and has said it will be back on the road this spring. Its NYPhil+ subscription streaming service was unveiled in February, featuring archival concerts and some fresh content. On April 14 and 15, a contingent of players will appear in front of small audiences at the Shed, 30 blocks south of Lincoln Center, with the conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen. (Jaap van Zweden, the Philharmonic’s music director, was not available because of commitments overseas, though he was in New York recently to tape two programs for NYPhil+.)
But its losses have been crushing. The orchestra has projected that the cancellation of its 2020-21 season resulted in $21 million in lost ticket revenue, on top of $10 million lost in the final months of its season last spring. (Some of that has been mitigated by emergency fund-raising.) Even when live performances resume, despite Borda’s rosy predictions, the box office may not bounce back immediately.
The need for savings that will extend beyond the pandemic was reflected in a new four-year contract agreed to by the orchestra and its musicians in December, which includes a 25 percent cut to the players’ base pay through August 2023. Pay will then gradually increase until the contract ends in September 2024, though at that point the musicians will still be paid less than they were before the pandemic.
plotted a return to its old home, Carnegie Hall; that plan fizzled, further damaging relations between the orchestra and Lincoln Center, its landlord, which also uses the hall for its own musical presentations and for corporate rentals. Concluding in 2012, a $1.2 billion redevelopment of the center left improvements all over — but the costly hall overhaul was not included.
restarted the project with the donation that gave the hall his name. Construction was supposed to start in 2019, but stalled well before that amid logistical problems and management turnover at both the Philharmonic and Lincoln Center. That plan had called for finishing the hall in time for the 2021-22 season. It was a schedule that the orchestra and center came to doubt was viable, but had they been able to stick to it, the renovated hall would have been ready to open just as the city hopes to emerge from the long pandemic closure.
Borda was hired in 2017 in large part to put the renovation back on track; in her previous job leading the Los Angeles Philharmonic, she had brought the construction of Walt Disney Concert Hall over the finish line. In New York, she pushed for a scheme less flashy and more achievable than some of the proposed options — one less likely to overrun its budget and designed to unfold in phases, limiting the stretches the Philharmonic would be exiled.
To be away from the hall for multiple years was assumed to pose an existential threat to its audience’s loyalty. Ironically, if Geffen reopens as now scheduled, the orchestra will have been out of its home for nearly two and a half seasons straight — exactly the situation that was so feared by its management.
As for David Geffen, who expressed frustration at some of the earlier setbacks in the years since his gift, Farley said in the interview that she had just spoken to him earlier that day.
“He’s a guy who’s big on efficiency,” she said, “and loves the idea we’re building it in one shot.”
The travel industry on Friday applauded new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that said Americans who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 could travel at low risk to themselves as likely to help ailing businesses and encourage more Americans to board flights, cruises, buses and trains.
“The C.D.C.’s new travel guidance is a major step in the right direction that is supported by the science and will take the brakes off the industry that has been hardest hit by the fallout of Covid by far,” Roger Dow, the chief executive of U.S. Travel, an industry group, said in a statement. “As travel comes back, U.S. jobs come back.”
But while the news may be a boon to the industry, its concerns are far from over.
Most airlines, hotels and tourist destinations have suffered mounting losses for more than a year as Americans largely stayed home. Travel is beginning to recover, but many of thesebusinesses won’t see meaningful profits for months, at least.
More generally, the pandemic has also shown businesses large and small that their employees can often be just as productive working remotely as in face-to-face meetings. As a result, the airline and hotel industries expect it will be years before lucrative corporate travel returns to pre-pandemic levels, leaving a gaping hole in revenues.
Airlines for America said in a statement.
Still, a rebound appears to be underway. On Thursday, the Transportation Security Administration reported more than 1.5 million travelers going through security checkpoints at airports, with the number of travelers increasing since early-to-mid March.
While that is a significant increase compared with 124,000 travelers a year ago, it is still 35 percent less than it was in 2019.
Many airlines have added flights to the beach and mountain destinations that have been popular throughout the pandemic. This week, Delta Air Lines also said it would start selling middle seats again, United Airlines said it would resume pilot hiring after freezing it last year and Frontier Airlines launched an initial public offering.
Like many musicians, J Mascis, the leader of the stalwart alt-rock band Dinosaur Jr., has struggled through a year without touring.
“I’ve never been home this long since, like, high school,” Mascis said in a phone interview from his home in western Massachusetts. “To have no idea when or if you can do anything again, just sitting around,” he added, trailing off. “My mental health has definitely suffered.”
But a few weeks ago, Dinosaur Jr. took a step toward normalcy by announcing an extensive fall tour, with a handful of warm-up dates booked for as early as May.
“We’re not naïve; we know we might have to reschedule,” Mascis said. “But just to have something on the books somehow makes things a bit more hopeful.”
33 percent of their regular capacity, up to 100 people for indoor spaces. Throughout the country, rules from local governments have kept many clubs and theaters closed, or allowed them to operate at reduced capacities — which for many of those places does not allow enough business to cover the basic costs of operating and of paying artists and employees, said Audrey Fix Schaefer of the 9:30 Club in Washington.
“The only thing worse than being totally shuttered is being partially reopened,” said Fix Schaefer, who is also the communications director for the National Independent Venue Association.
Shuttered Venue Operators Grant fund, which they can apply for starting April 8 — are eager for the business.
The relative handful of clubs and theaters set to reopen in the spring are doing so with altered seating plans, temperature checks and adjusted financial deals with performers. A recent rock concert in Spain, with extensive Covid-19 protections, drew 5,000 fans. These events are being watched closely by the concert industry, which went into 2020 anticipating its biggest year ever but ended up losing nearly $10 billion in box office revenue, according to data collected by Pollstar, a trade publication.
calendar.) Tables have been arranged to allow space between parties, and patrons, who must wear masks when not seated, will get their temperatures checked upon entry.
“Even if it’s for 100 people, it takes on such a significance to be putting on a show,” said Michael Dorf, the venue’s founder. “It feels like a sacred job, putting on culture.”
Miller, a regular performer at the dozen City Winery spots around the country, said that he had struggled with the forced grounding from Covid-19, though he also noted the silver lining of spending more time with his family. The idea of playing live again, he said, both excites and terrifies him.
Foo Fighters and others; Summerfest in Milwaukee, a major urban concert series, is also planned for September. But whether Lollapalooza in Chicago will go forward is unclear.
In New York, a smattering of clubs are also planning shows, like Bowery Electric and the Bitter End. But the majority are holding out for when they can reopen at full capacity, or close to it, many proprietors said. The industry has been placing its bets on summer or fall for that.
fall tour at large clubs like Avant Gardner in New York and the Anthem in Washington. Sam Denniston, the group’s manager, said that all signs have pointed toward that being feasible, as millions more people get vaccinated and more venues fully reopen. Yet uncertainty about the pandemic means that anything could happen.
“It’s kind of like penguins sitting on the edge of a cliff, and they push one in to see if there’s a killer whale in the water,” Denniston said. “I kind of feel like we’re that first penguin. But someone’s got to take the risk.”
While stadium-sized artists are counting on the pandemic coming under control and the full revival of a mothballed industry by the time they hit the road, for many others below the superstar level, a year without shows has simply been long enough.
“I don’t know if I can wait another six months to a year,” Miller said, “to do my job again.”
Google employees in the United States will likely be allowed to return to the office next month, the company said on Wednesday.
Google and other tech companies that shuttered their offices at the start of the pandemic are gradually reopening work spaces as vaccines become widely available. Facebook told employees that its Menlo Park headquarters would open in May, and Uber has allowed a limited number of employees to return to its San Francisco offices. Other tech companies, like Twitter, have allowed employees to work from home indefinitely.
Workers at Google will have the option to return in April, Fiona Cicconi, Google’s chief people officer, told employees in an email seen by The New York Times. Offices will operate at a limited capacity, and reopenings will vary state by state, based on the number of coronavirus cases in the area, Ms. Cicconi said.
“Offices will begin to open in a limited capacity based on specific criteria that include increases in vaccine availability and downward trends in Covid-19 cases,” Ms. Cicconi wrote. “We advise you to get a vaccine, though it will not be mandatory to have one in order for Googlers to return to the office.”
Workers who do opt to return will be required to wear masks, practice social distancing and pass a health survey, Google said.
Google said that it would not change the September date, when it plans to require employees in the United States to return to the office, and that employees could continue to work remotely until then. Some of Google’s offices in Asia and the Middle East have already reopened.