As governors across the country scramble to reimpose restrictions on dining as coronavirus cases soar, the National Restaurant Association is pushing back.
The influential restaurant trade and lobbying group fired off a letter on Tuesday (Nov. 17) to the National Governors Association decrying the latest round of state restrictions.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo last week shut down in-person service in restaurants and bars from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., and, in a news conference Wednesday, warned New York City may soon be declared an “orange zone,” which would completely shut down in-door dining, as well as gyms and other businesses considered to be high risk.
Other states have followed suit, with California Governor Gavin Newsom shutting down indoor dining at 10 p.m. while also cutting down on outside seating capacity.
But the National Restaurant Association, which represents an industry that has been devasted by the coronavirus and the shutdowns it has triggered, contends there is “no scientific evidence” that would tie the rising tide of coronavirus cases to restaurants.
Among other things, the restaurant organization wants to make the closure of indoor dining “a last option.”
All told, more than 100,000 restaurants across the United States have closed their doors since the pandemic erupted last spring, the NRA noted in September.
“There is an unfounded impression that restaurants are part of the problem, and we are suffering as a result of inconsistent, restrictive mandates,” National Restaurant Association President and CEO Tom Bene said in the letter. “Data tying systemic community outbreaks of COVID-19 to restaurants has yet to emerge, but we are too commonly labelled as ‘super-spreaders,’ and have become a convenient scapegoat for reflexive shutdowns.”
However, the restaurant group’s claims conflict with a recent study by Stanford and Northwestern universities, which found the highest danger from COVID-19 comes from the reopening of restaurants, gyms and hotels.