Sixty Percent of Restaurants Have Closed Permanently
COVID-19 is wreaking havoc throughout the restaurant industry. According to the National Restaurant Association, as of May 2020, restaurants had lost $120 billion and laid off or furloughed 8 million workers. The restaurant industry accounts for a majority of jobs lost due to the pandemic and 60% of restaurants have closed permanently.
Despite reopening efforts, these numbers are likely to double by the end of the year. Over 5,000 small and independent restaurants (accounting for tens of thousands of jobs) have permanently closed (New York is keeping a running list). For the restaurants that are open, there has been and will continue to be a drastic reduction in business, forcing many workers into continued unemployment regardless of reopening strategies. A survey by Civic Science found that over 61% of respondents wouldn’t feel comfortable eating out for months after all lockdown restrictions were lifted.
The only thing that has saved and will continue to save restaurant employees during this crisis is Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation. It must be extended.
The James Beard Foundation’s Open for Good Initiative outlines the restaurant industry’s needs to reopen, and offers tools for those owners seeking best practices to do so.
Restaurant workers are in especially vulnerable, economically precarious situations due to low wages before unemployment and often uninsured or underinsured. As restaurants continue to close, and the US rates of viral infection worsen, these employees are losing access to their employer-sponsored insurance.
The existing “safety net” is insufficient to provide for the needs of these out-of-work restaurant workers. Extending FPUC and expanding PUA would help address the direct, material needs of restaurant workers as they navigate a new reality dictated by the coronavirus.
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