The largest government shutdown in American history ended after 35 days Friday, and Philadelphians have mixed feelings about what that means for their lives and professional endeavors.
A bill announced by President Donald Trump will put the government and its agencies back in service for three weeks and ensure federal employees receive back pay for the time they worked for free during the shutdown.
Philadelphia is known for its importance to the American Revolution, leaving local tourism in a delicate spot during the government shutdown. Philadelphia is home to several government-funded tourist attractions that have federal employees and were temporarily closed, like the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall.
Visit Philadelphia CEO Jeff Guarcino is optimistic that new plans to bring tourists back to Old City will help compensate in the loss of tourism revenue that came from the shutdown. “We’re grateful the sites are open and people are back to work,” Guarcino says.
“Visit Philadelphia launched a mini marketing effort on Saturday to encourage visitation to the Historic District, which suffered during the shutdown. By spreading “open again” messages through social media, digital billboards and even in hotel lobbies, we hope to generate additional traffic to the sites and neighboring businesses,” he adds.
Federal employees like La Paris are glad that the shutdown is over but are concerned about how quickly relief will come for federal employees. “My reaction was bittersweet being as though it’s a temporary shutdown and it’s a big inconvenience financially and emotionally.”
For Paris, the anxiety of waiting for a disbursement for her unpaid labor is a stress few people hear about. “The worst part of it all is that people hear one part of the story in that we’ll be paid back, but when we were on shutdown for 17 days [in 2013] we didn’t see our disbursement for close to six months later,” Paris says. “Although at some point we will be reimbursed for our time, you don’t know when that is. It’s pretty messed up. [The government] treats its federal employees like they’re disposable.”
A frequent traveler, communications coordinator Shadyra Chambers feels at ease that the shutdown is over. “The shutdown affected a lot — from air traffic control to TSA salaries, so knowing those things were no longer compromised made me feel more comfortable about traveling,” Chambers says. “I’m extremely elated and excited for the workers. I couldn’t imagine working daily with no pay in sight in such a high-stress, high-stakes setting,” she adds.
While the shutdown may be over for now, Philadelphians are still responding to its effects in different ways.