Democratic officials continue to issue orders against restaurants in both California and New York just days before the Super Bowl, the nation’s largest televised sporting event.
No Super Bowl
Although for the first time in more than two months, confined Californians will be able to eat at outdoor restaurants, diners will not be able to watch television outside the venues and also will not be allowed to exceed six people per table.
Returning to outdoor dining is good news. However, limiting seating, preventing television viewing on patios, and implementing more restrictions will hurt the finances of the culinary industry, which has been hit so hard by the government’s pandemic measures.
Outdoor seating will also be limited to no more than six people per table, and everyone seated together must be from the same household.
In a nod to concerns surrounding the Super Bowl and other sporting events that could keep audiences nearby for extended periods, the order also stipulates that “televisions or other screens broadcasting programming must remain off until further notice.”
A Los Angeles restaurant owner expressed frustration with the Health Department’s order to keep TVs off for patrons after reopening outdoor dining.
James Brown, owner of San Pedro Brewing Company, told Fox News that the order meant to keep people from lingering outside restaurants will push them inside to watch the Super Bowl next Feb. 7.
“It’s definitely been a roller coaster of ups and downs like I’ve never seen,” Brown said. “Things are going to get better, but we’d like to showcase the Super Bowl.”
New York and its measures
Governor Andrew Cuomo also announced that restaurants will be able to open their doors for indoor dining starting next February 14, Valentine’s Day.
“Unless you open 50% or move the curfew, restaurants will continue to go out of business,” Stratis Morfogen, COO of Brooklyn Chop House, told FOX Business on Friday. He further added that “the lockdown needs to be eliminated.”
Earlier this week, the New York City Restaurant Association asked Gov. Andrew Cuomo to allow limited indoor dining and extend the current curfew from 10 p.m. to 12 a.m. However, Cuomo did not comply with the request, citing social distancing concerns.
Restaurant industry advocates argue for a better reopening plan, citing New York state data suggesting that restaurants have only accounted for 1.4% of coronavirus cases.
Cuomo’s update on indoor dining comes as major U.S. cities such as Chicago, DC and Philadelphia eased restrictions last week, resuming capacity at 25%.
A report by the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER) notes that “lockdowns do not control the coronavirus”. In the document the agency evidenced that several studies point out that “there is no relationship between blockades and control of the virus”.
“The virus is going to do what viruses do, as it always has in the history of infectious diseases. We have extremely limited control over them, and what we have is tied to time and place. Fear, panic, and coercion are not ideal strategies for controlling viruses. Intelligence and medical therapeutics work much better,” the report states.
Restaurants in intensive care
According to a report by the National Restaurant Federation, U.S. restaurant sales fell $240 billion between March and December 2020.
By April, when mobility restrictions peaked, eight million people employed in bars and restaurants had been laid off.
“Rather than continue to struggle in an extremely uncertain business environment, many restaurant owners decided to close their doors,” the federation lamented.
“We are running out of time.” This is the desperate plea of a Mississippi restaurant owner asking for the passage of the “Restaurant Act” to survive in the face of the deliberate shutdown by Democratic authorities.
Due to quarantine and excessive confinement, the U.S. culinary industry is also in “intensive care.” The anti-Super Bowl measures in LA make it worse.
“We need Congress to pass the Restaurant Act,” said Robert St. John, owner of New South Restaurant Group. “If President Biden and Congress want to have an impact on the unemployment numbers, he can cut it down right now,” he added in an interview on Fox & Friends.
Florida: the light at the end of the tunnel
The Super Bowl will be held next Sunday in Tampa, FL. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis pledged to keep the state’s economy alive and announced that restaurants will remain fully open. He also said this Sunday, January 31, that “Florida is open.”
DeSantis has reiterated that he will not allow the hospitality industry to shut down completely as in other states that imposed strict restrictions on indoor food.
Likewise, Florida’s top authority, reported that, according to studies, COVID-19 is widespread in homes where family gatherings are held, with only 1.4% of cases were traced to bars and restaurants.
“Closing a restaurant for indoor dining is going to lead more people to do it in private homes anyway,” he added.
DeSantis has left it up to his citizens to decide how to deal with the coronavirus pandemic without hurting Florida’s economy. In September, when he issued an executive order, he argued that people should “avoid trying to penalize people for not distancing themselves socially and working with people constructively.”
The governor said he would never again carry out any of the business closures and lifted major restrictions in the state, in addition to suspending fines for violating local protocols on wearing masks.
“As an act of grace from the executive branch, all outstanding fines and penalties levied against individuals have been suspended,” DeSantis announced in September.