Utah Business Loses $1 Million Amid Coronavirus Concerns, Social Distancing

Mar 13, 2020, 11:10 PM

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Businesses that bring people together are taking a hit in Utah as concerns over the coronavirus continue to push people farther apart.

From business expos to holiday decoration to retail, Modern Display does it all. President and CEO Taylor Vriens said business has been very good the last several years, but the company has taken a beating from concerns over COVID-19 over the last few weeks.

“The whole event industry has just fallen off a cliff,” Vriens said. “Business we’ve had on the books for months and even years is just gone like that.”

Federal and local health officials have urged people to keep their distance as much as possible to prevent the virus from spreading.

On Thursday, Gov. Gary Herbert announced new recommendations that included avoiding large gatherings of more than 100 people. Not to mention the impact the virus is having at stores, on sports and even at work where possible.

Vriens said clients have called to cancel at least 13 events over the last couple of weeks, leaving the month of March empty. That’s a loss of more than $1 million in business.

“This time of year that event and exposition business is really carrying the rest of the company,” he said.

The sudden loss in business and revenue coupled with the uncertainty that COVID-19 brings prompted Vriens to cut back hours for part-time workers, adjust salaries for full-time employees and even lay off some people.

“We feel like our business is a family and to tell somebody that they’re going to be making less money or they’re going to be losing their job…it’s gut-wrenching,” Vriens said. And as president of Visit Salt Lake, he knows all the canceled events are also hurting the hotel, restaurant and transportation industries.

The experience has taken him back to the struggles his business faced after 9/11 and the financial crisis in 2008. Still, he said, “this is probably the scariest if the three I’ve been through.”

“There is so much uncertainty we don’t know what comes next,” he said.

Vriens understands the precautions and recommendations surrounding the coronavirus. He can only hope that the state stays ahead of the virus so it doesn’t keep more people away from each other and from his business in the coming months.

KSL 5 TV Live


FILE - The Supreme Court is seen on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 4, 2024. (AP Photo/J. Scott A...

Associated Press

Supreme Court rejects COVID-19 vaccine appeals from nonprofit founded by Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

The Supreme Court has rejected two appeals related to COVID-19 vaccines from Children’s Health Defense, the anti-vaccine nonprofit founded by independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

18 days ago

FILE - Comirnaty, a new Pfizer/BioNTech vaccination booster for COVID-19, is displayed at a pharmac...

Jen Christensen, CNN

The FDA tells COVID-19 vaccine makers to update shot to target newest variant

The US Food and Drug Administration announced Friday that it had advised the makers of the Covid-19 vaccines to formulate their new shots to be a better match for the JN.1 lineage of the coronavirus.

1 month ago

(FILE) A test dummy getting hit by an air bag during a crash test....

Matt Gephardt and Sloan Schrage, KSL TV

Thousands of cars equipped with faulty airbags on Utah roads as automakers issues ‘Do Not Drive’ warnings

Auto manufacturers have recalled over millions of Takata airbags because of their potential to explode and shoot out sharp metal fragments. And there are still thousands of those in cars across Utah.

1 month ago

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 03: Dr. Anthony Fauci, former Director of the National Institute of Allergy a...

Lauran Neergaard, AP Medical Writer

Fauci testifies publicly before House panel on COVID origins, controversies

Dr. Anthony Fauci is facing heated questioning from Republican lawmakers about the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.

1 month ago

A sign reminding Copper Hills High School students and staff to keep their hands clean during the c...

Lindsay Aerts

Utah school districts working to prioritize what stays when COVID relief money runs dry

Utah's school districts are working to figure out how they will continue to pay for programs propped up by COVID-19 relief funds.

2 months ago

FILE: Former Utah Jazz John Stockton reacts during a 76-70 Wichita State win over the Gonzaga Bulld...

Michael Houck

Former Utah Jazz star John Stockton sues Washington medical director about COVID misinformation policy

Former Utah Jazz superstar John Stockton has filed a federal lawsuit against Washington officials on First Amendment violations, arguing the state's policy of COVID-19 misinformation is unconstitutional.

4 months ago

Sponsored Articles

young male technician is repairing a printer at office...

Les Olson

Unraveling the dilemma between leasing and buying office technology

Carefully weigh these pros and cons to make an informed decision that best suits your business growth and day-to-day operation. 

A kitchen in a modern farmhouse....

Lighting Design

A room-by-room lighting guide for your home

Bookmark this room-by-room lighting guide whenever you decide to upgrade your lighting or style a new home.

Photo courtesy of Artists of Ballet West...

Ballet West

The rising demand for ballet tickets: why they’re harder to get

Ballet West’s box office is experiencing demand they’ve never seen before, leaving many interested patrons unable to secure tickets they want.

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 internet safety tips for kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why printer security should be top of mind for your business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Utah Business Loses $1 Million Amid Coronavirus Concerns, Social Distancing