Tuesday, October 6 2020
As we all know, the Covid-19 crisis has hit the hospitality industry especially hard. In March of this year when the lockdowns began, millions of jobs were lost - nearly 6 million in total by April. In our state of California, continued lockdown measures and restrictions mandated by the state have forced many restaurants to furlough staff, close their indoor dining rooms, and some have had to shutter permanently. Of course, this comes as no surprise. It has been challenging for restaurant owners to meet compliance while operating at greatly reduced capacity. Some found grants or ways to pivot their business, while others were not as fortunate.
One potential silver lining is that over 200,000 restaurant jobs were added back in September, and the national unemployment rate is trending downward, which is excellent. But there will be a long road to recovery, and some states are faring better than others depending upon their governors’ decisions about reopening and what is deemed safe for that location.
In California, restaurants are finally allowed to offer dine-in service, but only at 25% capacity. This isn’t going to be feasible long term, of course. For a full recovery, all restrictions would have to be lifted. We still don’t have a date for that, and at this time there are more questions than answers regarding the future of the hospitality industry and Covid-19.
Last week, Disney had to layoff 28,000 employees from its theme park, and 2,500 of those were restaurant workers. Will this trend continue? We hope not, and one reason to stay optimistic is that our industry is resilient and many business owners, attorneys, and small business advocates have begun to speak out and take action.
The California Restaurant Association is a helpful resource and advocacy network on behalf of California restaurants. Their aim is to “promote and protect industry interests and practices through aggressive lobbying, monitoring the legislative process, initiating grassroots campaigns, boosting political action committees and fighting for policies that support the industry at all levels of government.”
In August, the CRA drafted a letter to the Governor which states in part:
“Restaurants cannot sustain themselves or their employees when they operate with strict capacity limits, which means the state should long ago have crafted a comprehensive aid package to help these small businesses hibernate,” said California Restaurant Association President and CEO, Jot Condie. “This is what we had repeatedly urged the Newsom administration to do – make state help available to restaurants so that, once the pandemic is behind us, the families who own these businesses could go back, open the doors and turn the lights on again. Instead, they are closing for good, by the thousands.”
The CRA also cites these statistics on their website:
• Before the pandemic, 1.4 million Californians worked in restaurants. Since March, between 900,000 to 1 million of these workers have either been laid off or furloughed – and many continue to wait on an unemployment payment that never comes.
• 60% of California restaurants are owned by people of color, and 50% of California restaurants are owned or partly-owned by women.
You can read their full letter to Governor Newsom here and check the CRA website for news and daily updates on this extremely important issue.
Let’s keep our fingers crossed for a full recovery for our beloved restaurants and bars, and thank the CRA for their diligent work toward that end. We all want our local businesses to be able to operate with respect to health and safety while keeping their doors open and Californians in jobs.