Delaware North, one of the world’s biggest hospitality and entertainment companies, has made the “agonising but unavoidable” decision to place more than two-thirds of its 3,100 full-time employees on temporary leave as it seeks to grapple with the COVID-19 crisis.

The company, which is headquartered in Buffalo, New York, said the spread of COVID-19 has forced the closure of nearly all of its more than 200 operating locations in the US, UK and Australia. In the early days of the pandemic, Delaware North took immediate emergency actions to stabilise its financial outlook, including restricting business travel and delaying ongoing projects.

However, after absorbing ongoing financial losses as a result of government directives aimed at containing the spread of COVID-19, the company has taken the decision regarding its full-time employees, effective from April 1.

Delaware North said in a statement: “Great attention was given to ensuring that full-time employees will continue to receive their medical, dental and vision benefits for eight weeks and a full week of pay for the first week on leave. The company’s greatly reduced full-time workforce staying on is doing so at a reduced rate of pay. In addition, thousands of frontline part-time employees are now no longer being scheduled for work as a result of the shuttered operations.

“Delaware North is taking these temporary steps to ensure the company’s long-term success. The Jacobs family and Delaware North hope the crisis will be short-lived and greatly appreciate the talented and passionate employees who have made the company successful and hope they remain healthy and safe.”

Delaware North spokesman, Glen A. White, told the Buffalo News that the pay cuts apply to top company executives – including co-CEOs Jerry Jacobs Jr. and Lou Jacobs and their brother, Charlie, CEO of the company’s holdings in Boston. Delaware North employs around 57,000 people, the majority of whom are on a part-time or seasonal basis.

In other news, ushers at TD Garden, home of NBA basketball team the Boston Celtics and NHL ice hockey franchise Boston Bruins, have been laid off during the event shutdown. The Boston Globe newspaper said employees received a letter from Delaware North, which owns the arena, stating that the workers, who are employed part-time, “will not be scheduled until the conditions at our unit allows us to resume normal operations.”

Delaware North later announced “temporary business stabilisation” measures relating to Bruins and TD Garden full-time salaried associates due to the “unprecedented impact” of the COVID-19 crisis on its operations.

Effective April 1, 68 full-time salaried associates will be placed on temporary leave, receiving one week of paid leave and eight weeks of full benefits. Additionally, 82 full-time salaried associates will receive an indefinite salary reduction.

Delaware North said: “These measures are intended to be temporary with associate employment and compensation returning once our business resumes to its normal state from this unprecedented stoppage.”

The Bruins are owned by Jeremy Jacobs, who is worth $3.1bn (£2.53bn/€2.82bn), and the team’s stance during COVID-19 has come in for criticism. At the weekend, the Bruins said they were putting $1.5m aside to compensate employees for missed home games. However, this compensation won’t be received until the Bruins’ remaining six home games are officially cancelled.

Image: TD Garden