Tell Your Story – California during the time of COVID-19

Tell Your Story - Tyler, San Francisco
SFFD Firefighters battling the four-alarm fire at Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco, May 23, 2020


Tyler, San Francisco

“Red and White Fleet is a 127-year-old family-held tourism business on San Francisco Bay. Red and White owns and operates a fleet of sightseeing vessels and provides sea and land tours of the San Francisco Bay Area. The company is certified as both a San Francisco Green Business and a San Francisco Legacy Business. In late January, we began formulating a response plan to the COVID pandemic based on trends we saw developing in the Asia market. We enacted a rolling staff furlough plan in late February, requiring all staff to work 75% of their normal hours.”

“On March 16, 2020, Red and White was ordered closed by the City and County of San Francisco as a nonessential business. Immediately thereafter we announced a mandatory 100% furlough for most employees. Within a week of the shutdown, we took the difficult decision to permanently terminate 43 employees, approximately 85% of staff at the time. The remaining staff, including management, took 25% pay reductions. On May 23, our offices, workshop, and warehouse were completely destroyed in the four-alarm fire at Pier 45 Shed C. We held property insurance for the location, but many historical and irreplaceable items were unfortunately lost. The cause of the fire appears to have been an illegal settlement or campfire in the shed.”

We were allowed to reopen with severe capacity restrictions exactly six months after the March stay-at-home order, in late September. We have been operating at reduced levels, with only a fraction of our former volumes. We missed our peak tourism season (May–August) and, as of early December, are fearful we will not survive the winter. In late 2019 we commissioned a publisher to create a history of our 127-year old company, using historical documents and interviews with current and former employees. We took delivery of thousands of books in early 2020, and nearly all of them were destroyed in the fire. Only a few copies survived.”

Tyler, 44
San Francisco

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