Four major Orlando hotels extend worker furloughs

Four major Orlando hotels say their furloughed workers might not be coming back, soon.

The Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek, the Waldorf Astoria Orlando, the Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort, and the Hilton Orlando all said their furloughed workers might not be able to come back for more than six months.

Speaking Friday morning at the Bonnet Creek Hilton, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said he'd seen how COVID-19 had hit the state's tourism industry.

“If you look at how Florida's been impacted, that's the number one impact, there's no doubt about it,” said DeSantis. “I think Orlando's done a good job of mitigating some of the damage, but they're not where they need to be, obviously we know that.” 

Each of the hotels cited the coronavirus and its effects as the reason that more than 1,400 total employees would be out of work for more than six months. In the Hilton Orlando’s filing, they stated:

"We did not and could not have foreseen how broadly and deeply the COVID-19 epidemic would spread and affect our business," the governor added.

The list of furloughs hit workers at all levels, from managers to housekeepers.

“I want all these people back to work. These are folks, as a guy who's attended events for years and years, the folks who work in this industry are great people,” DeSantis said.

The governor said he felt the city's hotels had what it takes to keep guests safe.

“They understand how you can put on an event with the appropriate protections so you're creating a low-risk environment while still being able to do things that make an impact.”

All these hotels refer to the furloughs as "temporary." Hilton said in a statement that they looked forward to welcoming these workers back "once travel rebounds."