Greater O.C. Chamber of Commerce anxiously awaiting expiration of federal J1 worker ban
OCEAN CITY, Md. – Businesses in Ocean City are already looking forward to bringing in J1 visa workers for the 2021 summer season. The Greater Ocean City Chamber of Commerce says they’re anxiously awaiting the federal ban on those workers to expire on Wednesday. “We expect that this week is going to come and go. Then all would be able to process and participate as they would ordinarily. We also expect that those who are traveling internationally will need to be more prepared,” said Executive Director Lachelle Scarlato.
Scarlato says that federal ban had a big impact on businesses in Ocean City last summer as they scrambled to comply with COVID-19 regulations and restrictions. “Some of the challenges last year related to many of the businesses actually having to develop new ways in which they conduct business. So, that in and of itself was a bit challenging. Getting set up and structured required more labor hours,” said Scarlato.
While Scarlato says the business community is ready to welcome those workers back with open arms, it will all depend on any restrictions workers’ home countries might have on processing their visas. “What we are hearing from our sponsor organizations is they are interviewing what would ordinarily be their full complement of J1 students. They have been doing that and they’re still engaged in that process. The only thing that would delay the participating of the J1 from arrival here would be their home country,” said Scarlato.
Scarlato says with all of this in mind, businesses will still have to carry forth many of the changes they made last year. That includes restrictions on capacity and following COVID-19 safety guidelines. “Some of the capacities have been adjusted upward to favor more participation in those activities. So, we feel that the community is ready for the J1s with their arrival to meet the need and the demand,” said Scarlato.