According to a trade group that has been working to get Congress to provide some sort of immediate financial relief to the restaurant industry in America, over 10,000 food establishments have now shut down either temporarily or permanently due to economic troubles brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Many restaurant and small business advocate groups throughout the nation are calling on lawmakers and pushing Congress to approve of a $120 billion bill that would help assist eateries and independently owned restaurants a fighting chance to survive the rest of the pandemic. There are around 500,000 independent restaurants throughout the country that rely on local consumerism to remain afloat.
These groups also want the government to revive the Paycheck Protection Program which was initially aimed at protecting small businesses, however, after the initial rounds of these payments, many businesses soon realized a majority of the money was going to largely owned multi-million dollar companies. Even worse, the program didn’t have a specific fund set aside for restaurants only, so they were especially left in the financial dust.
This summer the US eased a lot of its restrictions for outdoor in-person dining, which allowed the industry to bounce back a little, however, with the winter season fully approaching and now a massive surge of new Covid-19 cases also appearing, many cities are moving to shut down again. Sean Kennedy is an executive vice president for Public Affairs at the National Restaurant Association (NRA) who recently sent a letter to Congress on behalf of the entire association and independently owned restaurants all over the country.
“More than 500,000 restaurants of every business type are in an unprecedented economic decline. For every month that passes without a solution from Congress, thousands of more restaurants will close for good.”
A recent survey performed by the NRA showed that of its members, almost 6 in 10 chain and independent restaurant operators expect to lay off or furlough employees consistently within the next three months. In November, the number of workers in bars and restaurants declined by about 18,000, after being on a steady increase since April when these establishments were able to reopen and keep their workers employed.
Beyond just the lack of customers, restaurants are also worried about working in the middle of a global health crisis that is killing hundreds of thousands. Ashwin Deshmukh owns an all-day cafe and bar in New York City, and he recently spoke with the local media about how intense this pandemic has actually been for the industry.
“Owners are really worrying about not being able to cover fixed costs amid the demand destruction caused by the pandemic. Costs are higher due to spending about $100 per week on personal protective equipment.”
Getting through the winter will pose a major struggle for the industry unless another government funded assistance program is distributed among all the small businesses and establishments that are just trying to remain afloat during the worst global health and economic crisis’ in decades.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.