FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – As diners entered The Boathouse restaurant in Fort Lauderdale Wednesday a manager took their temperatures. The Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce performed a similar function recently, taking the temperatures of nearly two dozen CEOs in the area about the impact of COVID-19 on the economy and their outlook for the future.

The evidence from the survey shows that more than 50 percent of CEOs from numerous industries in Greater Fort Lauderdale — like healthcare, hospitality, manufacturing and construction — believe that it will be mid-to-late 2021 or beyond when sales activity will return to normal. Thirty nine percent of CEOs believe the growth rate in the coming months will be higher than it is now, while 50 percent believe it will be lower or much lower than current rates. One of the big concerns is the supply chain. More than 50 percent of the CEOs surveyed believe the supply chain disruptions will not ebb until mid or late-2021.

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One bright spot in the survey is that nearly 80 percent of the CEOs surveyed believe the growth rate in 2 or 3 years will be higher or much higher than it is right now.

Dan Lindblade is the President and CEO of the Chamber. He’s optimistic for the future — “I think we will recover. There’s no doubt we will recover” — but knows there are rough times ahead. He said COVID-19 shut down one of the strongest economies he’s seen in decades.

“Whenever you’ve got to shut that down so drastically, so quickly and you gotta restart it, it takes time,” he said.

Lindblade said some businesses are facing even lengthier roads to recovery, like the hospitality industry.

“Hospitality is gonna take a lot longer,” Lindblade said. “People are gonna have to feel comfortable traveling again, staying in hotels, group settings, all of that is going to take time.”

At the Riverside Hotel, they’re bracing for a challenging year.

“I think this year is kind of done,” said Heiko Dobrikow, Vice President of the Las Olas Company and the General Manager of the Riverside Hotel.

Dobrikow said COVID-19 wiped out 90 percent of their business and crippled their year, forcing them to take tough measures.

“You have to dip a little into your reserves and that’s what we did — we dipped into our reserves, our savings to hunker down through this time frame,” he said.

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Dobrikow showed us some of the many new cleaning and safety protocols they’ve instituted like using UV wands, setting up hand sanitizer stations, putting in social distancing markers and enforcing temperature taking. He said they’re ready to safely welcome customers.

“I can tell you it’s safe to get out there,” he said.

Dobrikow said they’re bracing for a significant drop in convention and large group traffic while international travel remains up in the air.

“How many people can meet inside in a meeting room? What’s gonna happen to larger events?” he wonders.

Instead, the Riverside plans to focus on promotions geared to local and regional customers.

As stores and restaurants and other non-essential businesses began reopening in South Florida on a limited basis this week, Lindblade said it’s important to see activity returning. However, he said CEOs surveyed by the Chamber do not expect a massive hiring of workers.

“They’re slowly going to be bringing back employees,” Lindblade said. “Some are not going to bring back all their employees. So we’re going to see a staggered approach to that.”

In fact, in the coming weeks, the Chamber plans to kick off a big campaign to support local businesses called Love It Local.

“Whether it’s restaurants, retail or autos, let’s make sure you buy here locally,” Lindblade said.

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