BARELY BACK IN BUSINESS


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New York City, one of the hardest-hit COVID hotspots, is beginning to lift its economic lockdown, allowing construction, manufacturing, and “unessential” retail sales for curbside pickup to resume on 8 June.
As if it would have any effect of the economic devastation that has destroyed so many businesses, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, America’s newly revered politician, boasted that resuming work on the new Penn Station railroad terminal and expansion of the Second Avenue subway will jolt the city’s economy.
City “officials” are still making up their array of social distancing, disinfecting, and other COVID laws in hopes of maximizing the use of public transit that workers will need to get to and from their jobs.
Over in New Jersey, their supreme leaders will allow outdoor high-school and college graduation ceremonies to take place from 6 July if social distance is maintained. The state will issue guidance, i.e., make up rules based on not a shred of scientific data, on the maximum number of people that will be allowed to attend the events.
Restaurants Seek New Ways to Survive
Restaurants’ business models are based on feeding as many customers as possible in each square foot of dining room space. But now that health regulations and public expectations force new strictures on eateries, including limiting occupancy to 25 or 50 percent of capacity, many are unsure how, or if, they will survive.
Restaurants reopening to dine-in customers, now allowed in 31 states, are spacing tables farther apart, installing Plexiglass partitions between tables, and allowing extra time between seatings so workers can clean and disinfect booths and tables after each use, all to comply with state and local mandates or guidelines as well as to assure customers they will be “safe.”
Restaurant owners expect social distancing and other health strictures to be in force at least through August.
To meet the requirements, restaurants are hiring more workers and buying extra supplies while they watch their revenues fall by half or more because fewer tables are in use and the time between customers at each one is longer to allow for cleaning.
Making things worse: a recent survey of 2,500 Americans found that 75 percent of them plan to avoid eating in restaurants or dine out less often for the foreseeable future.
Almost half of Colorado’s restaurant owners expect to close within three months under the state’s 50-percent occupancy cap announced last month, a recent survey found.
In New York City, a 50-percent occupancy in a typical 75-seat restaurant would allow only about 20 diners at a time because employees have to be counted among the occupants, according to James Mallios, an attorney who owns restaurants there. Among 483 New York City restaurateurs, 61 percent told a recent survey they cannot survive with less than 70 percent occupancy.
A Denny’s franchisee is closing 15 restaurants in New York City and letting 520 workers go; an owner of 49 IHOP restaurants in four states has filed bankruptcy.
Under the distancing and occupancy guidelines, owning a restaurant “is not a money-making proposition,” said Adam Werner, co-leader of consulting firm Alix Partners’ restaurant practice.

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