Dire predictions for the restaurant industry are getting even worse as the coronavirus pandemic continues to limit business by keeping people away from gathering together indoors.
Initially, the Restaurant Association of Maryland predicted that 25% of restaurants in the state would need to close for good.
Now, according to the group’s president Marshall Weston, that number is likely to be around 35% or even 40%.
“It becomes increasingly difficult for restaurants to generate the revenue they need in order to remain open,” Weston said.
“Restaurants are built on traffic and volume in order to survive and those things just aren’t happening right now.”
Making matters worse, Weston said the extreme heat wave and heavy storms that the D.C. region has seen in recent days have made outdoor dining difficult, if not impossible.
“We are running out of money as an industry,” said Weston.
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In Virginia, industry experts said they expect at least 20% of restaurants across the state to close permanently.
“We’ve seen a lot of closures in all parts of the state,” said Eric Terry, president of the Virginia Restaurant Lodging and Travel Association.
“It’s very expensive to do takeout and delivery, so it’s very hard to make the numbers work.”
Terry said restaurants in the more commercial areas such as Crystal City are being hit hardest right now, while the more residential areas are doing a bit better because they rely less on tourism and business travelers.
The National Restaurant Association sent a plan to Congress dubbed the “Blueprint for Restaurant Revival,” calling for a $120 billion restaurant recovery fund, more money through the federal Paycheck Protection Program and a long-term loan program that would provide at least six months of operating costs.
“We are hopeful that Congress will act again to provide a lifeline for restaurants to survive this pandemic,” Weston said.
The industry’s blueprint plan also calls for “temporary and targeted liability protections” to stop businesses from facing “fraudulent or frivolous lawsuits” over exposure to the coronavirus.
“The financial risk of being dragged into court is leading many restaurants to consider shutting down, or diverting resources away from rehiring staff or expanding service options for customers,” according to the plan.