Coronavirus Closures: Telecommuting Workers Are Porky Pigging It

By Rick Gonzales and Staff | 3 days ago

The sheer panic that has swept the world has taken an even more panicked turn as leaders continue to look for ways to stop the Coronavirus, or COVID-19, from spreading. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have called COVID-19 a pandemic. As a result, Coronavirus closures have begun to be announced.

A number of steps are being taken to try to contain the spread of the virus as best as possible with many more measures, some drastic, being discussed. The one big measure that seems to be gaining quickly is shutting down businesses and ordering people to stay home.

Coronavirus Shutdowns Changing Shopping Habits

As the citizens of the world are forced to stay home, they’re also being forced to work via telecommuting. And telecommuting means that almost all of your interactions with your workmates are either through email or video chat. And you don’t need pants to video chat.

Or at least that seems to be the conclusion reached by most shoppers. The latest online clothes buying habits seem to indicate that when working from home, many employees are Porky Pigging it.

Dan Bartlett, executive vice president of Walmart’s Corporate Affairs tells Yahoo Finance that they’ve seen a big spike in consumers buying shirts online, while at the same time no one is actually buying bottoms.

So the next time you’re talking to Bob about the big project you’re working on, ask him to stand up and see what happens. Or maybe, depending on how you think Bob might look in his tighty-whiteys, you might be better off not asking at all.

YouTube Limiting Access To Videos

YouTube has announced that for the next month, viewers globally will no longer be able to watch their videos in HD by default. Going forward all videos will default to viewing in low quality Standard Definition. You’ll still be able to manually force videos to display in HD, but most users probably won’t even realize they can do that.

The move comes in response to the increased traffic they’re receiving due to the Coronavirus outbreak. More people are at home and not at work, which means more people have more time to watch YouTube videos. So just when people actually need YouTube most to keep themselves sane while they’re trapped inside four walls… YouTube is limiting the quality they’re willing to deliver their videos in.

The plan is an effort to reduce the strain on global internet services. Netflix has also been urged to stop delivering their videos in HD. They’ve complied in places like Europe, but have not yet agreed to do so in the United States the way YouTube has. Still, it’s probably only a matter of time before your Netflix videos look terrible too.

Instacart Hiring 300,000 Workers

Coronavirus opening

While everyone else is laying off workers and shutting down their businesses as government regulations to contain the Coronavirus make it impossible to keep going, Instacart is ramping up.

Instacart is a grocery delivery service which picks up groceries from a variety of different stores and brings them straight to your door. With people shut in, they suddenly are a lot, lot busier. They are working on hiring 300,000 new people right now as they increase their coverage across the United States and Canada.

54,000 of those workers will be hired in California and 27,000 will be hired in New York. The rest will be spread out across the USA and Canada. They’re not just hiring drivers, they’re hiring people for all facets of their business. So if you’re just lost your job due to the Coronavirus and you need a new one: Instacart is hiring and they’re desperate. They want you. Apply here.

Italy Shutting Down Gas Stations

Though there have been a number of different lockdowns in various countries and states in the United States, in most cases these shutdowns have made keeping vital services open a priority. That’s about to change as Italy will shut down all its gas stations starting on March 25th.

The claim according to Reuters is that this is being done because they can no longer guarantee health and safety standards at the stations. But it’s hard not to notice that shutting down gas stations would have the added benefit of forcing people to stay home because they don’t have any gas in their car to go anywhere.

It’s a tactic which we could see adopted more and more places, if its a successful means to get people to stay in their homes without having to declare something drastic martial law.

Trump Pushing To End The Shutdowns

On March 23, 2020 President Trump began pushing to end the shutdowns in the United States in an effort to get the economy moving again. Trump says…

With promising cures in pill form being tested in hospitals, it’s possible that America could be ready to emerge from its quarantine slumber. Experts are, however, skeptical.

The Olympics Are Postponed

The oddly named Dick Pound, who is a Veteran member of the International Olympic Committee, has announced the 2020 Olympic Games are cancelled.

In a statement issued over the phone to USA Today he says, “On the basis of the information the IOC has, postponement has been decided… The parameters going forward have not been determined, but the Games are not going to start on July 24, that much I know.”

So we know for sure the original start date for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo has been cancelled. They sound like they have some intention to hold them at a later date, but they have no date chosen. So for now we don’t know when or if the games might be held later. But we do know they aren’t happening when they were supposed to.

It’s worth noting that when other IOC spokespeople were contacted for confirmation, they did not give it and instead gave vague answers like, “Well, as we announced yesterday, we are looking at scenarios.”

States Issue Shelter In Place Orders

California closed

So far nine states have issued Shelter In Place orders for their residents. Those states are as follows…

  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Louisiana
  • Michigan
  • New York
  • New Jersey
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • Washington
  • West Virginia

The governor of California issued a Shelter In Place order, effective for the whole state as of Midnight, March 19, 2020. The order is open-ended and does not have an expiration date. Read the actual executive order here.

Here’s California governor Gavin Newsom making the announcement…

Essential businesses will remain open. Those include gas stations, pharmacies, food stores, banks, laundromats, and restaurants for takeout.

Examples of businesses that must be closed include bars, restaurants, gyms, and convention centers.

Business-wise there’s little difference from this order than the one already issued by states like Washington asking that all restaurants and entertainment venues be closed.

The added difference is that the governor is also asking people, unless they are going to one of these places or going to work at one of these places that are allowed to be open, to stay in their homes.

It’s not clear at this hour whether this order will actually be enforced by the police and National Guard. There’s been some suggestion that the California government is hoping shame alone will cause people to comply.

Coronavirus closure

New York governor Andrew Cuomo stepped to the podium on the morning of March 20, 2020 and announced that the state of New York was closed for business and all New Yorkers should do their best to stay in their homes.

Mirroring the move made by California the day previously, New York has now issued a similar order. Essential businesses like grocery stores and banks will be allowed to remain open, but all non-essential business like bars or clubs are closed until further notice.

New Yorkers are allowed to leave their homes for important supplies or if they work at one of the businesses deemed “essential” enough to remain open, but otherwise everyone is asked to stay inside and stay away from each other.

Even though the orders being issued are the same as the ones issued in California, governor Cuomo refuses to call it a “shelter-in-place… It is not a shelter-in-place order… Shelter in place is used currently for an active shooter or a school shooter.”

However while California’s governor indicated their provisions might not be enforced by police, Cuomo took a much harder line saying, “These provisions will be enforced. These are not helpful hints. This is not if you really want to be a great citizen. These are legal provisions.”

Coronavirus Shortages

Sensing that their time being allowed to leave their house is drawing to a close, citizens around the world have been rushing stores in an attempt to stock up on vital commodities. The number one target for most apocalypse prepping shoppers? Toilet paper.

There isn’t actually a toilet paper, there’s plenty of the stuff being produced, but people are buying it up so fast the stores simply can’t keep it in stock. The second it hits the shelves its gone.

That might mean you’ll find yourself running low on toilet paper soon, with no easy way to get more. Luckily, the internet has a solution.

The new website How Much Toilet Paper? has created a calculator to help you manage your toilet paper supply. Input the number of rolls you have left and track your usage and they’ll help you keep track of how many days worth of toilet paper you have left. That’ll let you conserve when you need to or relax and go crazy using as much as you want when there’s nothing to worry about.

CORONAVIRUS SCHOOL CLOSURES

coronavirus school closures

What started as a few Coronavirus closures has grown rapidly. Federal health officials have been urging school districts near and far to prepare for the spread of the virus and many have taken them to heart as they have closed down schools and, in some cases, entire districts.

As of March 18, 2020 the public school systems are now closed in 32 out of 50 states

Many of these closed districts have given end dates indicating they’ll stay closed through at least April. However now Government officials are starting to admit that they think any schools will be opened back up before summer break. Here’s California’s governor Gavin Newsom breaking that news…

That means people shouldn’t expect their kids to go back this school year and the soonest they’ll be back to school is the next school year in the fall of 2020.

The National Schools Board Association (NSBA) has put together a legal guide to help assist schools and decision-makers on how to hopefully combat the spread of the virus. There is also a live map of the United States tracking all the school closures as they occur or are scheduled to occur.

While it is not yet known the effect COVID-19 has on children, (at first, it was thought it had zero effect), the role of children spreading the disease could be much more than first anticipated. “If you don’t close schools, you might run the risk having viral fountains in the middle of your community,” Hanage said.

AMAZON SUSPENDS ALL NON-ESSENTIAL SHIPMENTS TO ITS WAREHOUSES

Amazon.com informed sellers on Tuesday March 17, 2020 that they are suspending all shipments to their distribution warehouses, except those that qualify as essential products. Those essential products still being shipped include things like medical supplies and household staples. The stoppage will continue until at least April 5th in an effort to better cope with increased demand as people are locked away in their homes and become more dependent on their services.

In the email sent out to their retailers Amazon says, “We are seeing increased online shopping, and as a result some products such as household staples and medical supplies are out of stock… With this in mind, we are temporarily prioritizing household staples, medical supplies, and other high-demand products coming into our fulfillment centers so that we can more quickly receive, restock, and deliver these products to customers.”

Steven Yates, CEO of Prime Guidance an organization which works with Prime Sellers says, “Amazon is taking drastic measures to address logistical challenges faced amid the coronavirus pandemic… Amazon has struggled to keep up with demand on essential items, so this move will allow them to focus more available resources to meet this increased demand.”

According to information released by Amazon, while overall demand for their services has massively increasing as the Coronavirus outbreak unfolds, demand for non-essential items has been on the decline anyway. Their numbers indicate that demand for non-essential goods has dropped anywhere from 40 – 60% as buyers focus their cash on stocking up with essentials like toilet paper and face masks.

Sellers who normally ship their products using Amazon’s warehouses will still be able to ship them on their own. They’ll just have to do it without Amazon.

Here’s the full email as relayed by Business Insider

“Hello from Fulfillment by Amazon,

We are closely monitoring the developments of COVID-19 and its impact on our customers, selling partners, and employees.

We are seeing increased online shopping, and as a result some products such as household staples and medical supplies are out of stock. With this in mind, we are temporarily prioritizing household staples, medical supplies, and other high-demand products coming into our fulfillment centers so that we can more quickly receive, restock, and deliver these products to customers. 

For products other than these, we have temporarily disabled shipment creation. We are taking a similar approach with retail vendors. 

This will be in effect today through April 5, 2020, and we will let you know once we resume regular operations. Shipments created before today will be received at fulfillment centers.

You can learn more about this on this Help page. Please note that Selling Partner Support does not have further guidance.

We understand this is a change to your business, and we did not take this decision lightly. We are working around the clock to increase capacity and yesterday announced that we are opening 100,000 new full- and part-time positions in our fulfillment centers across the US. 

We appreciate your understanding as we prioritize the above products for our customers.

Thank you for your patience, and for participating in FBA.”

Amazon is currently working on upping its ability to handle increased demand. They’ve put out a call to hire as many as 100,000 more workers.

CORONAVIRUS CLOSING BUSINESSES

The CDC now recommends that gatherings of more than 50 people be prohibited nationwide. In response, some states have begun mandating a shutdown of all restaurants, movie theaters, and recreational facilities.

It’s the straw that broke the camel’s back for the movie industry. Find out how they’re trying to survive with our Coronavirus Shuts Down The Movie Theater Industry special report.

A growing number of states across the country have now banned the public from using restaurants, movie theaters, and entertainment venues of all kinds. In most states the ban allows restaurants to serve curbside take-out and keep drive-throughs open. The bans also allow grocery stores and pharmacies to stay open. But it’s clear they want everyone to stay in.

To help hammer the point home, former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger posted the following video. In it he urges people to stay home and sets the example by cuddling up in his dining room with his pet miniature donkeys. Watch…

CORONAVIRUS CLOSING DOWN HOLLYWOOD

Disney has been forced by the Coronavirus to cancel movie releases like Mulan and close all their theme parks worldwide. And it’s going to cost them a fortune. Current estimates have them losing as much as $350,000 a day just from the shutdown of work on productions like The Little Mermaid alone. And the Coronavirus cancellations are just getting started.

Overall analysts expect Hollywood in general to lose at least $20 billion from the Coronavirus shutdown. And that’s really just one of the many, many industries being totally paralyzed as the world settles into a near global quarantine.

Coronavirus closes movie

Movie premieres have been cancelled because of Coronavirus concerns. The first domino to fall was the new Daniel Craig James Bond movie. No Time To Die, has been moved from an April 10, 2020, U.S. premiere back to November 25, 2020, and because of this could lose upwards of $50 million on ads that ran with the now incorrect date.

After the cancellation of No Time To Die other movies started cancelling with A Quiet Place II and Fast & Furious 9 bailing on their releases in quick succession. Now nearly everything is bailing on releasing in theaters. Below is a complete list of all the major movies which have cancelled and/or rescheduled their release dates…

  • A Quiet Place Part II | Original Release Date: March 20, 2020 New Release Date: TBA
  • Mulan | Original Release Date: March 27, 2020 New Release Date: TBA
  • No Time To Die | Original Release Date: April 10, 2020 New Release Date: Nov. 25 2020
  • Antlers | Original Release Date: April 17 New Release Date: TBA
  • The New Mutants | Original Release Date: Apr. 3, 2020 New Release Date: TBA
  • Fast & Furious 9 | Original Release Date: May 22, 2020 New Release Date: April 2021

The award-winning TV Show The Amazing Race had to temporarily suspend their production as they were filming in Europe. The contestants have been sent home until they can figure out how to move forward with production in light of the Coronavirus.

Even Tom Cruise has been affected. Filming of Mission: Impossible 7 has been halted as the crew was scheduled to shoot in Venice, Italy but Italy is now the third-worst country affected by the coronavirus. So the Coronavirus has closed down production for the forseeable future

CORONAVIRUS CLOSURES AT AMUSEMENT PARKS

Amusement park coronavirus closure

Four only the fourth time in its entire history, Disneyland is shutting down. Disney World and all of Disney’s parks are now closed too. The announcement came after California’s governor announced that gatherings of more than 250 people should be avoided. The park is currently scheduled to remain closed indefinitely.

Except there’s one, small part of Disney World that isn’t closed and it’s the part that mostly only caters to really rich people: The golf course.

Disney World’s golf course is, according to their website, running at full swing in Orange County, Florida. For some bizarre reason, golf courses have been excluded from the mandate requiring all non-essential businesses to close. Of course it doesn’t seem so bizarre when you think about who spends the most time at golf courses. Politicians perhaps?

However, golf courses also tend to attract old people. So if a lot of old politicians suddenly start dropping dead from the Coronavirus, you’ll have a good guess at where they got it.

Here’s original the statement issued by Disney regarding the closure…

Disney’s parks in other countries are already closed due to the Coronavirus. With the closing of Disneyland, that leaves only Disney World in Orlando, Florida still open.

Now that Disneyland has closed, expect other theme parks, particularly other theme parks in California, to soon follow suit.

College Campus Shutdowns

College closure

Elementary and high schools across the nation are not the only schools affected. College campuses are seeing many classes cancelled or many being turned into virtual classes. Over 20 campuses, which enroll over 200,000 students, include Princeton University, Columbia University, Stanford University, Rice University, Hofstra University and the University of Southern California. Also on the list of Coronavirus closures is a host of community colleges from the hard-hit state of Washington and the University of Washington.

The fear continues to be real as evidenced by students at the University of Dayton. When officials there announced the campus would be closed due to Coronavirus fears, students rioted.

Police in riot gear from various departments around Dayton, Ohio were called in to disperse a group of more than 1,000 students who gathered near the campus on Lowes Street. The students initially stood their ground, causing police to enhance their efforts to move the crowd along by showing a little force, shooting pepper balls into the crowd.

The incident, which was in reaction to the news that university housing would be closing for most of the students due to the spread of the coronavirus, began around 11 pm at night and didn’t finally resolve itself until around 2:15 am when the students finally went back to their housing. 

The University of Dayton released a statement on the incident: “A large disorderly crowd that grew to more than 1,000 people gathered on Lowes Street starting around 11 p.m., throwing objects and bottles in the street and at police, and jumping on cars. Police gave verbal orders to disperse which were ignored. Police initially launched pepper balls, which contain powder with an irritant that disperses quickly, that were unsuccessful in reducing the crowd size. About 2:15 a.m., UD police and additional Dayton police again gave orders to disperse and moved to clear the street, which was effective in dispersing the crowd quickly. At least one person was reportedly injured by a thrown bottle.”

CORONAVIRUS ELIMINATES STUDIO AUDIENCES

The iconic game shows Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! have announced they will no longer have studio audiences, due to concerns about the Coronavirus. Live audience reactions have been a critical part of both shows for years, but now when you tune in you’ll hear silence or worse, canned reactions.

Both shows will start filming to empty seats starting on March 10. Now most productions have followed suit and none of the shows you see on television will film with live audiences.

Beyond concerns for transmission of the disease among the audience both shows need to take extra care with their hosts. Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek is currently battling stage 4 pancreatic cancer. With his immune system compromised by chemo, he’s in no shape to fight off the Coronavirus too.

Meanwhile let’s face it, Wheel of Fortune’s audience is old. Like, really old. The elderly are most susceptible to the Coronavirus. They can’t have their core fans put at risk, especially when medical recommendations are starting to pop up suggesting older people should stay in their homes.

CANCELLING SPORTING EVENTS

Sports cancelled

The NBA has suspended its season in response to the Coronavirus threat. The decision came after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.

When leagues began talking about playing games in empty stadiums, NBA star LeBron James to fire back at those plans. “I ain’t playing,” James said per USA Today’s Mark Medina. “I ain’t got the fans in the crowd. That’s who I play for. I play for my teammates. I play for the fans. That’s what it’s all about. If I show up to an arena and there are no fans in there, I ain’t playing. They can do what they want to do.”

So now the NBA is done for the season.

The NCAA has decided not to invite audiences to their March Madness tournaments. They’ll still have them, but the players will be playing to empty stadiums. For now. With the NBA cancelling its season it may not be long til everyone else follows suit.

With COVID-19 starting to make its impact felt across the nation, what do we do about our sporting events? Mass crowds are one thing we have been told to avoid, so what about an arena full of warm-blooded bodies?

The Indian Wells tennis tournament, one of the world’s leading tourneys, decided on the eve of its start to cancel the event. This was done after county officials declared a public health emergency when a single case of COVID-19 was confirmed in the area.

As far as other professional sports, they are starting to see the effects too. The NHL, Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer have announced they are closing their locker rooms to journalists due to COVID-19. They all agreed after “after consultation with infectious disease and public health experts.” The NBA spoke to their teams via conference call to let them know their decision to enact Coronavirus closures was made not to ban reporters but to ensure the safety of players and staff.

League officials (from all leagues) have informed their respective players to be prepared for anything.

But it isn’t only major sporting events that are feeling the virus. Many local sporting events, high school basketball games, wrestling matches, and cheer competitions have been cancelled due to the Coronavirus. Some tournaments are still on the books but some schools that are in areas affected by district closures have been uninvited to these events. It’s a tough call, not to let these young men and women compete in their championships but school officials are doing what they feel is best to stop the spread of the virus.

CORONAVIRUS CLOSURES OF CONFERENCES

e3

Another area hit hard are the conferences across the U.S.

The annual gaming expo E3 has been cancelled amid Coronavirus concerns. The conference wasn’t scheduled to begin until June 9, 2020 but the event was officially cancelled early on March 11, 2020.

Reaction amongst gamers and potential attendees has not been good. Here’s a sampling of what they’re saying…

Austin, Texas is the another victim as it announced the Coronavirus leading to the cancellation of South by Southwest (SXSW), a movie, music, and technology festival that has been running for 34 straight years and last year attracted some 200,000 people. Also cancelled:

  • Facebook Global Marketing Summit in San Francisco, California
  • Facebook F8 in San Jose, California
  • Google News Initiative Global Summit in Sunnyvale, California
  • Google I/O in Mountain View, California

The economic effect of these Coronavirus closures has gone over $1 billion and this doesn’t even factor in the money companies like Facebook stood to gain. The numbers are staggering as SXSW is expected to lose close to $350 million according to data intelligence company PredictHQ.

San Francisco’s Game Developers Conference, scheduled for this month, has been postponed until the summer and still could lose $129 million. Google’s I/O developer conference will lose around $20 million with its cancellation.

CONCERTS CANCELLED

Empty Opera

If you have tickets to your favorite singer, your favorite act, you better check in to make sure they will still be out on the road, especially if the concert is within the next couple of months. Many high-profile singers have either cancelled or rescheduled their concerts on fear of the virus or because of certain travel restrictions.

Mariah Carey rescheduled her Hawaiian stop citing international travel restrictions.

The Metropolitan Opera in New York has not enacted Coronavirus closures but instead has issued a 14-day quarantine for any employees, performers or artists traveling from Iran, South Korea, China, Hong Kong or Italy.

Ciara, who happens to be pregnant, has been advised by her doctors to avoid large groups and travel. This means she had to cancel her Fort Hood, Texas hometown performance that was set to be the grand opening for the Fort Hood USO. Thankfully the concert and grand opening have been moved back to later this year.

Other Coronavirus closures have occurred outside of the U.S. as Khalid, BTS, Stormzy, Green Day, Avril Lavigne, Louis Tomlinson, and even Material Girl Madonna have all had to either cancel or reschedule overseas concerts.

Continue to check in on the venue or performer for updates on possible Coronavirus cancellations or reschedules.

CORONAVIRUS CANCELLING TRAVEL PLANS

coronavirus travel closure

Another area being greatly affected is the travel industry. More specifically, cruise ships and airplanes. The CDC has recently changed its tune from earlier, now stating that the elderly and those with compromised health should avoid long plane trips and to especially avoid cruises.

This coming on the heels of two Princess Cruise ships that have finally been allowed to dock. The Grand Princess was finally allowed to dock in Oakland, California after 21 people tested positive for the coronavirus. The Regal Princess was held up but finally allowed to port in Florida after two crew members had to wait for the results of their coronavirus test.

Airlines are also seeing a hit with the CDC’s new guidance stating that the elderly and those with health issues should avoid “non-essential travel such as long plane trips.” The Coronavirus closure losses could be staggering for the air travel industry. According to estimates by the International Air Transport Association, they forecast a loss from anywhere between $63 billion to $113 billion in passenger air travel.

CORONAVIRUS CLOSURES AROUND THE WORLD

News around the globe doesn’t get any better. Mass Coronavirus closures rock many countries. Asia’s amusement parks are being hit hard, sporting events are being shut down or being played with no fans, and Italy’s Premier Giuseppe Conte has completely shut down travel in the entire country.

Whether it is warranted or not, the globe is under attack and everyone is trying to figure out the best way to combat it. Until then, treat it as you would any other major flu outbreak. Wash your hands, cough and sneeze into your arm, stay home if you are feverish and last, but not least, wash your hands (yes, we did say this twice). Be smart and safe.

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