DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Baltimore North-Pikesville canceled the reservation of Yeshiva University’s men’s basketball team on Thursday, Mar. 5, due to concerns about the coronavirus.
The Manhattan-based team will play its first-round NCAA Division III Tournament game today, Mar. 6, against Worcester Polytechnic Institute in an empty Johns Hopkins University gymnasium. JHU, which is hosting the game, announced that spectators will not be allowed into the gym for any of the first- and second-round games, scheduled for Mar. 6-7, because of guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control regarding large crowds.
One Yeshiva University student tested positive for the coronavirus, and in-person classes and events at the university’s two college campuses are banned until next week. The game, set to start at 1 p.m., will be streamed.
Yeshiva University coach Elliot Steinmetz protested the Pikesville Hilton’s decision, which forced his team to book rooms at a downtown hotel.
“I made it very clear to the hotel that it’s discrimination,” Steinmetz told the media. “I basically said to them, ‘Do you have a checkbox on your website that says, have you been in an area with suspected coronavirus?’ And they said no. So I said, ‘IIs it just for the guests of Yeshiva University?’ and they said yes. I told them that that’s called discrimination. …
“They don’t seem to be stopping people from making reservations at the hotel based on where they are coming from or what’s going on in that area,” he said. “There could be somebody coming in from Italy or Hong Kong or any part of New York City and checking into the hotel. But the fact that we were in the news earlier in the week and coming in a group, all of a sudden there was a change in their policy of who they were letting in.”
In a statement, the DoubleTree by Hilton Baltimore North-Pikesville, which is owned by the Baltimore-heaquartered Blue Ocean property management company, said, “We value each and every one of our guests, and safety is an utmost and top priority. For the safety of our guests and employees, the management of the property followed the precautionary measures set by Yeshiva University, that has recently cancelled classes, as well as scheduled events, through Tuesday, March 10th.
“The DoubleTree by Hilton Baltimore North-Pikesville is aware that there has been an allegation of discrimination around this incident, presumably due to Yeshiva University’s majority Jewish population. This allegation is false and without any merit or basis,” the statement read. “Our hotel maintains a strict non-discrimination policy and honors and welcomes people of all faiths regardless of religious affiliation. In fact, a significant portion of the hotel ownership is held by individuals of the Jewish faith. The sole consideration for the relocation was the safety and well-being of our guests and employees.
“While we regret the inconvenience that this may have caused Yeshiva University, we are pleased that our staff moved diligently to assist the group in securing alternative accommodations. We have only the greatest respect and admiration for Yeshiva University and hope that we will be given the opportunity to provide them with accommodations at our hotel in the future.”
This report was culled from the JTA global news source and other media reports.