SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — The coronavirus outbreak has created an ever-widening economic ripple effect, impacting both big, bellwether tech companies and the smaller businesses that rely on them.
“Regarding this virus, we don’t know when it’s going to end; when we’re going to see the light at the end of the tunnel,” said Glenn Telega, who works behind the scenes at conventions, concerts and corporate events in Silicon Valley.
Until recently, Telega says he was working non-stop. But as the outbreak worsened and public health officials began to discourage people from attending large public gatherings, he told KPIX 5 the work came to a standstill.
“It’s just gone off the cliff overnight. It’s like everyone’s locked inside and can’t come out. And we understand what’s going on with the virus and that precautions have to be taken,” said Telega.
But Telega worries about his fellow employees, many of whom live paycheck to paycheck and aren’t prepared for a prolonged downturn in the hospitality industry.
“When you tell your workforce to stay at home, that means that there’s going to be less business in the restaurants and the other establishments that count on that traffic. Corporations are going to weather this effect,” said Joint Venture Silicon Valley CEO Russell Hancock.
He says smaller businesses remain vulnerable slowdown caused by the outbreak.
At Crust Deli in North San Jose, the lunch-hour crowds were noticeably thin. The new sandwich shop caters to tech workers along the normally busy Tasman Corridor. But with many of those workers telecommuting due to coronavirus concerns, the tables on the patio were half deserted.
“It’s very significant. Especially since we’re a start-up and trying to build our business. It’s not crippling us yet, but it is very significant,” said deli general manager Ron Allen. He estimates business is down 15 to 20 percent in the past two weeks.
For now, Crust Deli has managed not to cut employees even as the widening and worsening outbreak takes a big bite out of their business.
The economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak is a dynamic situation that seems to change by the day. But people who work in San Jose’s convention and concert industry say it could be three to six months by their estimation before business is back to normal.