“We are currently about five housekeepers short for what we anticipate to be probably the busiest summer we’ve ever had,” Klemme said.

To try to attract workers, the job’s starting wage is now $15 an hour, an increase of $3.50 per hour. Klemme said in the worst-case scenario, other Fitger’s management and staff would have to step in to help clean rooms, or they would have to change the check-in and check-out times to allow for more time in between guests. However, as of right now, he doesn’t anticipate they will have to resort to that.

“We would like to get to every position in the hotel and mall with the same ownership up to a minimum wage of $15 in the next year — that’s the goal — but housekeeping being the biggest need, that one came first.”

Manager John Klemme stands in the lobby of Fitger’s Inn in Duluth on Monday, June 7, 2021. (Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com)

Manager John Klemme stands in the lobby of Fitger’s Inn in Duluth on Monday, June 7, 2021. (Steve Kuchera / [email protected])


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Klemme isn’t alone. Nearly everyone in the hospitality sector in the area is hiring for the busy season ahead. Check out any employment website and you’ll find countless positions “urgently hiring.” Elena Foshay, Duluth’s director of workforce development, said she gets calls every day from restaurants and hotels looking for help with recruiting.

Lee’s Pizza in Duluth had to change its hours and delivery radius because it only has one cook and one delivery driver. And Shorty’s Pizza & Smoked Meat in Superior announced last week it closed the restaurant for good, citing lack of employees.

Foshay said the manufacturing industry is short-staffed in many entry-level jobs, and health care workers such as certified nursing assistants are in high demand.

One of the major reasons the workforce is not filling the demand of hospitality jobs this summer is the additional $300 per week of unemployment benefits that were extended by the American Rescue Plan. Many minimum wage jobs cannot offer the same amount of income that people on unemployment currently receive. The federal supplemental benefits will end on Sept. 6.

“Everyone likes to blame the extra $300 in unemployment, but that’s not entirely it,” Foshay said. “It certainly is making it easier for folks who are deciding not to look for work, but that’s not the only reason that’s holding people back.”

The hospitality industry was the hardest-hit sector during the pandemic, so many restaurants and hotels are having to start from scratch to rebuild the workforce they were forced to lay off last year.

Fitger’s Inn housekeeper Vickie Busker cleans the Isle Royale Suite on Monday, June 7, 2021. (Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com)

Fitger’s Inn housekeeper Vickie Busker cleans the Isle Royale Suite on Monday, June 7, 2021. (Steve Kuchera / [email protected])

In Cook County, many local businesses rely on international student workers to come for the summer. Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jim Boyd said many countries that usually have students come on visas still have travel restrictions in place, and embassies and consulates haven’t had the capacity to process visas.

He said restaurants in the county are hit the hardest by the worker shortage, and several

Passengers wearing protective face masks arrive from Paris at Eurostar terminal at St Pancras station, as Britain imposes a 14-day quarantine on arrival from France from Saturday, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in London, Britain August 14, 2020. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

Airlines, holiday companies, tourists and vast swathes of southern Europe are looking forward to hearing the UK’s plan to relaunch travel but only a limited number of countries are set to be declared safe to visit.

Britain’s biggest destination countries including mainland Spain and Greece, as well as France, all risk being excluded from the initial “green list” for quarantine-free travel expected on Friday.

After a year of restrictions, that would be a major blow for tourist hotspots and the airline and holiday companies which are all desperate for big-spending Britons to travel.

British Airways (ICAG.L), easyJet (EZJ.L), Ryanair (RYA.I), TUI and others will likely have to wait until at least late June for a larger scale re-opening of UK travel needed to repair their COVID-19 battered finances.

Most travel from the UK has been banned since the beginning of the year due to pandemic restrictions.

The British government has said people from England can go abroad again from May 17 at the earliest, and more clarity is expected on Friday on the traffic light system which will grade countries green, amber or red based on their COVID-19 risk.

The green list is likely to comprise smaller destinations such as Gibraltar, Iceland, Israel and Malta, while bigger markets like Portugal and the United States also have a chance. Some analysts suggest that certain Greek islands like Crete and Rhodes, and Spain’s Canary Islands could feature.

EasyJet Chief Executive Johan Lundgren told an online conference on Thursday that Britain risked being left behind by the rest of Europe if the green list was small. read more

While Britain’s vaccination programme has outpaced the rest of Europe so far, the EU has already outlined its travel plans, recommending the arrival of foreign travellers from more countries from June. read more

However limited Britain’s green list, the travel industry will hope that clarity on destinations will boost bookings, and that some customers will travel to amber countries, despite the requirement for 10 days of self-isolation on return.

Green list travel will involve people taking two COVID-19 tests, one before arrival back into the UK and one within two days of returning.

Airlines and travel companies have complained that the high cost of tests – at around 100 pounds ($140) each — will dampen demand, but testing prices are falling as competition picks up.

TUI on Thursday announced testing packages starting at 20 pounds for its UK customers travelling back from green countries. read more

Britain has promised to reassess its travel plans before June 28 and said that the allocation of countries will be kept under review. The industry is hoping for a review of a country’s category every three weeks.

($1 = 0.7208 pounds)

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