A growing handful of states have begun their reopening phases, in some cases allowing for dine-in patrons at restaurants. But reservations are still down in many areas to such a degree that some restaurant owners are unsure if their businesses will survive.
In Georgia, for instance, which was the first state to end the lockdowns and restart its economy, dine-in business has plummeted to as low as just eight percent of what it was a year prior. And in Texas, which is only allowing restaurants to open at 25 percent capacity, in some cases with airport-style “security” at the door, reservations are consequently down about 83 percent.
The two states receiving the most restaurant business are Alabama and South Carolina, but even these are seeing reservations at barely above 25 percent of normal. This is making it difficult for many restaurants to remain open even if they desperately want to return back to normal.
Because of the way things are opening back up gradually in phases, some experts predict that a shocking one in four restaurants will ultimately go out of business for good. The result will be the further decline of our nation’s economy, which is already on the rocks in many other ways due to the government’s response to the pandemic.
Even in Georgia, strict requirements were put in place to limit the number of customers in restaurants at any given time. Only 10 customers per 500 square feet are permitted, which greatly impedes the ability of restaurants to operate at a feasible capacity to still turn a profit.
Interestingly, polls conducted in states like Alabama and South Carolina show that the vast majority of people are willing to eat out again. The fact that restaurants are continuing to suffer, in other words, has everything to do with government restrictions on how many can eat out at a time.
Data from the National Restaurant Association shows that the restaurant industry as a whole lost an astounding $80 billion in revenue during the months of March and April, mid-March being the time when most states began to shut down in response to the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19).
During the month of April alone, the hospitality industry saw a record five million jobs lost, meaning five million people who could have been serving patrons willing to brave the pandemic are now unemployed indefinitely.
But they were still allowed to serve take-out, right? In many cases yes, assuming this was allowed under state and municipal guidelines. The problem, however, is that to successfully run a kitchen it takes a lot of manpower, not to mention enough supplies to make a variety of meals, which many restaurants simply could not provide with very limited service capacity.
Even with the lockdowns being somewhat lifted in many areas it is still not enough for these businesses to survive, let alone thrive.
“Restaurants are complicated beasts,” says OpenTable CEO Steve Hafner. “You have to order food and supplies. You have to make sure you’ve prepped the kitchen and service areas to be easily disinfected.”
Meanwhile, Anthony Fauci, who heads a government agency promoting new “blockbuster” drugs and vaccines for the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19), has stated that he believes the country is moving too fast and that everything should continue to remain closed indefinitely.
“I think we’re going in the right direction, but the right direction does not mean we have by any means total control of this outbreak,” he is quoted as saying.
Last we checked, the goal was never to attain “total control” over this outbreak, but rather to “flatten the curve.” Why have the goal posts suddenly shifted?
To keep up with the latest news about the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19), be sure to check out Pandemic.news.
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