Restaurant Industry Worst Hit by Pandemic, Survey Shows

The restaurant industry has lost two-thirds of its workforce, or more than eight million employees, as a result of COVID-19 closures, according to a new national survey conducted by the National Restaurant Association (NRA) and included in a new industry recovery plan sent to the US Congress.

The Association called on Congress to enact a new “Blueprint for Recovery” to provide targeted relief for the second-largest private-sector employer, an industry that is larger than airlines, railroads, ground transportation, and spectator sports combined, and that has in the past been one of the slowest to bounce back from downturns.

According to the survey, which included 6.500 restaurants in the US, more than 60% of owners say that existing federal relief programs will not enable them to keep their employees on payroll during the downturn. The restaurants lost USD30bn in March and are on track to lose USD50bn in April, leading to a potential COVID-19-related loss of more than USD240bn nationwide by the end of the year.

“The restaurant industry has been the hardest hit by the coronavirus mandates—suffering more sales and job losses than any other industry in the country”, Executive Vice President of Public Affairs Sean Kennedy wrote to bipartisan congressional leaders. “On March 18, we wrote you warning of a bleak outlook for the restaurant industry…as the pandemic was unfolding. One month later, we have a clearer picture of the severe challenges that lie ahead and ask for a focused solution on behalf of an industry that is a vital part of every community. Each of you has a favorite restaurant in your home state—one that exemplifies your culture, your cuisine, and your community. The restaurant industry epitomizes the American dream, but it is uniquely vulnerable to both the current circumstances and the future uncertainty of dining in an era of social distancing”, Kennedy concluded.

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