‘It’s going to be a slow recovery,’: Mayor Nirenberg says of San Antonio’s coronavirus-stricken economy

The city’s hospitality and tourism industries have been hit hard during this pandemic

SAN ANTONIO – Although coronavirus cases and hospitalizations have held steady declines over the last month or so in Bexar County and San Antonio, the impact the disease has had on the local economy is still significant.

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg joined us Sunday on Leading SA to discuss what the road to recovery from COVID-19 looks like for San Antonio.

“It’s going to be a challenge. We’ve seen a lot of relief efforts locally and nationally take place. We’re fighting right now at a local level to make sure that there’s proper relief in place for small businesses. And we know that in particular, food and beverage restaurants in particular are going to get hit very hard. So we’re going to be working with our state and federal legislators to try to get more relief to them,” Nirenberg said.

The city’s hospitality and tourism industries have been hit hard during this pandemic, which are some of the biggest drivers of San Antonio’s economy. Nirenberg said this is also why the city has been struggling with budgeting this year.

It’s been one of the reasons why we have been struggling through this with regard to city budgeting, because a bulk of our city departments, I should say, a few city departments, derive a lot of the resources from hotel and occupancy tax. Thankfully, our city staff has been working proactively throughout the summer months,” Nirenberg said.

Despite the coronavirus crisis, Nirenberg said he does believe the city will be able to recover. However, it’s going to take some time.

Overall, the economy is like others around the country. It’s going to be a slow recovery. There’s many jobs have been lost. We’ve had 150,000 people file for unemployment,” Nirenberg said. “It’s going to take a number of years for many those jobs to come back. And the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in fact, tells us that many of those jobs, up to a quarter or a third of those jobs will not come back at all."

Earlier this week, Judge Nelson Wolff elected not to allow the reopening of bars in Bexar County. His decision came just hours after Gov. Greg Abbott issued an order that allowed bars and similar establishments to open at 50% capacity with areas that have low COVID-19 hospitalizations.

However, the decision is at the discretion of county judges.

Nirenberg said he fully supports Judge Wolff’s decision and that bars in the area will reopen once public health officials give them the guidance that it is safe to do so.

“He (Gov. Abbott) basically put the ball in the judge’s court all across the state. Every county judge now is having to go through the decision-making process as to when and how to open. So, what the judge has done, which I fully support, is basically seek guidance from our public health community about setting the stage for that opening so it can be done safely and it can be done on the timeline. That makes sense to protect people,” Nirenberg said.

Nirenberg also discussed plans for Proposition B SA Ready to Work, early voting and much more during the Leading SA interview.

You can watch the rest of our interview with Mayor Nirenberg below:

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About the Authors

Max Massey is the GMSA weekend anchor and a general assignments reporter. Max has been live at some of the biggest national stories out of Texas in recent years, including the Sutherland Springs shooting, Hurricane Harvey and the manhunt for the Austin bomber. Outside of work, Max follows politics and sports, especially Penn State, his alma mater.

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