Report: 10,000 restaurants expected to close in the next 3 weeks because of COVID-19

Tuesday, December 8, 2020
Business owners brace for possible new restrictions
Triangle small businesses are contending with increased COVID-19 cases -- causing concerns that customers may stay away or stricter regulations will be implemented right in the heart of the holiday shopping season.

About 17% of America's restaurants have already permanently closed this year, with thousands more on the brink according to a new report.

The National Restaurant Association is publicly pleading with Congress to pass new stimulus to help the industry that has been damaged by the pandemic. The group said Monday that 10,000 restaurants could close in the next three weeks, in addition to the 110,000 that have already shuttered in 2020.

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The group released results from a survey of 6,000 restaurant operators, revealing that 87% of full-service restaurants reported an average 36% drop in revenue and 83% expects sales to be "even worse" over the next three months as the virus continues to lash the United States.

"In short, the restaurant industry simply cannot wait for relief any longer," said Sean Kennedy, executive vice president for the group, said in a release. He advocates for a "true compromise" between the competing Democrat and Republican proposals and hopes for a larger stimulus package in 2021 under the incoming Biden administration.

CNN Business' dashboard tracking America's recovery shows a steep drop in restaurant reservations -- down 70% during the pandemic. They recovered in September, but have fallen once again since.

A bipartisan stimulus proposal could be unveiled this week. It's unclear if the extension of the Paycheck Protection Program, which the group wants, will be included.

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Another measure, called the Restaurants Act of 2020, was passed by the Democratic-controlled House in October as part of a $2.2 trillion stimulus relief package. But it has not been taken up by the Republican-controlled Senate and is unclear if that will be part of any final relief package.

Restrictions on indoor dining capacity in some US states and other lockdowns stipulations, like curfews, have ravaged the industry. A number of national chains filed for bankruptcy this year, including Ruby Tuesday's and California Pizza Kitchen, which has resulted in the closure of hundreds of locations.

This week, a Los Angeles business owner who was forced to shut down her restaurant said she felt restaurants and other small businesses are being unfairly targeted by California's new and stricter stay-at-home order.