Restaurant Industry To Face More Restrictions Across The Country

(┬áRestaurants and bars have already been decimated by the coronavirus pandemic, and now they’re facing new restrictions in many parts of the country.

In New York and New Jersey, Governors Andrew Cuomo and Phil Murphy, respectively, have issued curfews for bars and restaurants, saying they must close between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. every day. In New Jersey, indoor bar seating is banned. In New York, alcohol can’t be ordered for delivery or takeout after 10 p.m.

On the other side of the country, Oregon Governor Kate Brown has imposed a “two-week pause” on social gatherings. She also limited capacity inside for restaurants to only 50 people, and that includes any staff members and employees. Parties larger than six people are also prohibited in Oregon.

In Maryland, Republican Governor Larry Hogan set indoor restaurant capacity back to 50% of the venue’s capacity. Indoor gatherings are also limited to no more than 25 people.

This is all sure to be bad news for those in the restaurant and bar industry, but it comes as new research shows that’s where a majority of coronavirus infections have come from.

A study published in the journal Nature used data from cellphones to follow 98 million people in 10 cities. They used that to see where these people went, how long they remained there and also the square footage of the location. They then cross-referenced that data with the area’s infection rates, and used “standard infectious disease assumptions” to see which venues were most at risk to transmitting the coronavirus.

The result was that cafes, gyms, restaurants and “other crowded indoor venues” were responsible for eight of out 10 new coronavirus infections during the first few months of the pandemic in the U.S.

The lead author of the study, Jure Leskovec from Stanford University, told the New York Times:

“Restaurants were by far the riskiest places, about four times riskier than gyms and coffee shops, followed by hotels.”

The spread of the virus recently, backed by this research, has convinced some areas to rollback restrictions entirely. In San Francisco, for example, indoor dining won’t be allowed to re-open. They’ll be limited to only outdoor dining, delivery or takeout.

Mayor London Breed released a statement saying San Francisco has seen a 250% increase in coronavirus infections since October 2. The statement read:

“I cannot emphasize enough how important it is that everyone act responsibly to reduce the spread of the virus. Every San Franciscan needs to do their part so that we can start moving in the right direction again. I know this is not the news our residents and businesses want to hear, but as I’ve said all along, we’re making decisions based on the data we’re seeing on the ground. Right now, our public health officials are telling us we need to take these steps to get the virus under control and save lives — so that’s what we’re doing.”

This seems like it’s only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to restrictions on dining and other indoor activities around the country. And it could be the final nail in the coffin for many businesses.