For the second time this year, cities and states are denying restaurants the ability to serve indoor dining. This time, however, the weather has turned, and outdoor accommodations are harder to sell. Many places already are getting snowstorms and frigid temperatures, which makes sitting outside, even under an umbrella with a heat lamp, a lot less appealing to diners. Restaurant owners and staff are struggling to stay open, and many long-lasting establishments will close their doors for good this year. Is limiting money-making opportunities the right approach at this time?
Why they’re closing indoor dining
A lot of the recent spread is being linked to indoor dining at restaurants and bars. Places such as New York City are on track to hit the limit for their hospital capacity, and closing indoor dining is a tactic they are enacting to try to control the spread and limit the exhaustion of resources. Some have touted statistics claiming that private gatherings offer more risk for spreading the virus than dining in a restaurant, especially when restaurants are mostly operating at 50% capacity with ventilation, etc. The fact is that it is difficult to mandate and then monitor private gatherings.
Restaurants do also have other options when it comes to serving customers. They can offer delivery, takeout, and — in some states — outdoor seating. Of course, none of this is ideal, but in order to stay afloat, owners can and should utilize these options until we return back to normal.
The government factor
Although we debate whether dining options should be limited during the pandemic, there is something that both sides seem to agree on. The government should be doing more to help small- and medium-sized businesses during this time. Restaurants and other businesses would feel more comfortable limiting their offerings or closing completely if there was a safety net to fall back on and resources to continue to pay employees while keeping themselves afloat as well. The first round of stimulus packages was too long ago, and not as helpful as initially promised. A second round was just approved by Congress, and hopefully, it will be of help to these hard-hit workers and business owners.