Houston Sends Emergency Text Alert To 4.7M Residents Requesting They Cancel Holiday Gatherings During COVID-19 Surge

Houston Matters


On tuesday. Show harris county judge. Lena hidalgo reiterated the seriousness of this latest surge of covid nineteen cases later tuesday to reinforce at the county released an emergency broadcast alert urging residents to stay home wear masks and cancelled gatherings that last part is not welcome news for folks whose job it is to promote and encourage such gatherings or those who rely on such events convention and visitors bureau officials owners of major convention and performance venues nationwide hotels. You name it. There are all sorts of industries that have had to radically rethink what they do how they do it and what they can or cannot plan for and promote communities. What exactly can such folks do in houston amid a pandemic leading to record setting numbers of infections by the day. Let's ask houston first acting president and ceo. Michael heckman michael. Welcome to houston matters. Good morning it's great to be here. Thank you for joining us. You took on this role at houston. I back in august. Though you've been with the local government corporation that manages city owned buildings properties and parking for a number of years in other roles how has the pandemic impacted the work. Houston i is doing. And we'll be doing in the coming months well it it was This year's been a lot of change for a lot of people pretty much. Everybody and many many industries maybe none more than the travel live events and tourism business Once march hit we had to really really React in a different way Than what our plans. Our plans completely got thrown out the window. We were looking for a record year for tourism for twenty twenty or conventions. We had a great convention calendar In once it became clear over time that that wasn't gonna happen. We had to shift immediately to You know we pulled our domestic and international advertising. We shifted to community support. We shifted to things like stations To be able to put people eventually back in in hotels But the impacts for the hospitality community and anyone in the live event. Business has been Extreme houston i operates. The george brown convention center avenida houston jones hall worthy miller outdoor theatre among other venues. While many if not all those venues very much this at the moment and haven't been able to for a number of months. Can some events conventions meetings concerts. Would you be scheduled at least several months out. Maybe if not a year or more from now well we're looking at at. I'll get to the performance. Venue in a moment but You know we're looking at next year Currently and what are our best View of it is today and talking to all of our convention. Clients is We're seeing shift from q one and q two two major conventions that have moved back into q. Three possibly q four. We're not seeing as many outhouse cancellations which is good news. I think that the vaccine news. is Is the light at the end of the tunnel will see how it's ultimately distributed and brought to scale Hopefully that will be over the first six months of twenty twenty one But but some green shoots as we see them as you know for example Offshore technology conference otc move from may back to august and we'll see some additional shifts of some major conventions that will move back into into q three and q four so after july. first we have seen No cancellations related to covid On our calendar so the second half of the year could be A busy convention year. In the meantime what can and is being done through the george r brown convention center these days. I think if you look at some of these small safe events that were able to do For for example the symphony in jones hall Outdoor programming again. That's that's physically distanced. That safe safeties number one priority for for any of our attendees for any guests for travelers for that matter. You know that's why. We've rolled out the the houston clean initiative in partnership with many of the sports events and venues And hospitality sector Whether that be restaurants or hotels is houston clean Is a promise to ease or anyone that may travel is. There's there's a minimum amount of Protocols that each one that takes this pledge we'll put into place so as we develop this level of confidence with with attendees travelers. Hopefully we'll be able to to be able to get That visitor economy in the hospitality economy be able to be restarted. But there are some events that you're you're able to do where we're going to be Hosting events down here at the the avenida friday night there will be The alley theatre will have their Their tree lighting Down here The ice at discovery green there are events small in nature that you're able to do At this period of time but safety is the number one

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