Covid Restaurant Closures

Ash Lopez, Journalist

Restaurants that were once busy and bustling with constant movement are now dark, empty, and silent. These global pieces of society are being affected by COVID-19 more than you would expect, and are starting to go out of business because of it.

On May 25th, Governor Jared Polis announced that they would allow restaurants in Colorado to re-open, as long as they followed CDC guidelines, one of which was that they would only be allowed to open at half capacity, or about 50 people in the restaurant at the same time.

Normally, this would only be a small setback to larger chains of restaurants, such as McDonalds, and other well known fast food chains, but the CDC has implemented a large list of policies to follow. The following is a compiled list of just a few of the major ones. 

  • No more than 50 people were allowed in, and food pickup encouraged.
  • No more than 8 people could sit together.
  • Restaurants would have to encourage or require reservations.
  • Ensure adequate supplies, like soap, hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol, paper towels, tissues, disinfectant wipes, cloth face coverings, and no touch trash cans.
  • Change restaurant and bar layouts to ensure that all customer parties remain at least 6 feet apart.
  • Limited seating for social distancing.
  • Avoid offering any self-serve food or drink options, such as buffets, salad bars, and drink stations.
  • Install physical barriers, like sneeze guards and partitions.

A quote from the CDC also states that restaurants should space “tables and stools, limiting party sizes and occupancy, avoiding self-serve stations, restricting employee shared paces, rotating or staggering shifts, if feasible.” These all seem like standard things that all people do to survive COVID, and so people may ask, why these would cause restaurants to have to close down. The answer lies in the cost. Large chains might not have as much trouble keeping up with the costs of all the hygienic protection, but smaller, locally owned restaurants would have more problems with it. Not only the costs of the hygienic protection, but also having fewer customers, would mean that costs would most likely be tight. 

According to an economic report from Yelp, 24,000 restaurants have nationally closed permanently or temporarily from March to mid-June. And although people assume that they would re-open after COVID and things would go back to normal, or before COVID happened, this is a wrong assumption. People go to restaurants on average a couple of times a week, and in some cases, every day. Although restaurants are open, “during COVID consumers are reporting a better overall experience with restaurants than a year ago, including higher levels of satisfaction with delivery speed, food, and price.” (nrn.com)  This also means that restaurants will lose even more customers because of it, and may never be able to recover the money that they have lost during it.

In an interview with a South student, Hanan Negash, they responded that ”Yes, I am less likely to eat out during COVID because of the risks, and also the waiting time has completely increased which is annoying sometimes when you are really hungry.” This re-demonstrates that most customers of restaurants think that COVID has drastically affected and hampered the local restaurants, and as a result, are more likely to avoid eating out. And the people who do go to restaurants that have opened for people to eat in there, have a better chance of catching COVID than you would think. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has said that 72 outbreaks started from restaurants, with an average of 5.5 new outbreaks every week.

This concludes that restaurants are going out of business because of the cost to keep up with the CDC guidelines, lack of customers, and the quality of the food. The restaurants more likely to survive COVID are the larger chains and corporations that have the money to spare, but locally owned restaurants are more likely to close, either permanently or temporarily.

To emphasize the closing of so many small restaurants, it has come to the attention of many large news stations, such as USA Today. “As of the end of August, 32,700 franchised businesses have closed in the USA and lost 1.4 million jobs.” This shows that small businesses have closed, one after another in the US, because of COVID. It also illustrates that more jobs have been lost because of COVID than one would think, because those are just the people losing their jobs. Most of the places just closed down temporarily, instead of shutting down permanently, which makes up a smaller portion of the small businesses than temporary closing.

Therefore, restaurants closing because of COVID is a much more serious issue than one would initially think.