Restaurant Operators Say New COVID Restrictions Could Permanently Close A Third Of US Restaurants

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Some U.S. chefs and industry advocates fear new rules to stem the spread of COVID-19 could be the final straw, the Financial Times (FT) reported.

Some of the country’s highest-profile chefs said they expect to see a wave of failures, according to FT.

“It’s becoming very stressful,” Chef Daniel Boulud of Manhattan’s Daniel restaurant said, FT reported.

The National Restaurant Association cited U.S. Census Bureau data indicating a seasonally adjusted decline in restaurant sales in October — the first slippage since the industry began to claw its way back from the damage inflicted by the first wave of shutdowns.

The restaurant trade association wrote: “October’s sales decline is a troubling sign for the industry, as the month likely included some of the last opportunities for outdoor dining in many parts of the country. Factoring in the indoor dining restrictions that are currently being reimposed in some jurisdictions, it becomes clear that the winter months will represent an extremely challenging period for restaurants that rely on on-premises business.”

The group’s head, Tom Bene, argued in a Nov. 17 letter to the National Governors Association that the industry is being unfairly blamed for COVID-19 cases.

“We continue to support aggressive steps to protect the nation’s public health. But there is an unfounded impression that restaurants are part of the problem, and we are suffering as a result of inconsistent, restrictive mandates,” he wrote. “Tens of thousands of additional restaurant bankruptcies — and millions of lost jobs — are now more likely, while the science remains inconclusive on whether any health benefits will accrue. …we are too commonly labeled as ‘super-spreaders,’ and have become a convenient scapegoat for reflexive shutdowns.”

According to FT, the Independent Restaurant Coalition reported that one in six U.S. restaurants already has closed for good — and the number that have closed due to COVID-19 could double over the next six weeks.

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