ALEXANDRIA, Va.—This week, the National Restaurant Association urged the nation’s governors and mayors not to close restaurant dining rooms that are operating within current guidelines, according to Nation’s Restaurant News.
In a letter to the National Governors Association and the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Lawrence Lynch, senior vice president of the NRA, wrote that the restaurant industry has been diligent in its commitment to stepped up safety protocols. The letter aims to dispel “inaccurate information” about the role of restaurants in spreading the virus.
This week comes after recent news reports from around the country indicate that some restaurant and bar owners have been unwilling to comply with government-imposed limitations. States from New York to Texas have found restaurants in violation of state mandated regulations.
Over the weekend, New York’s state liquor authority reportedly handed out 105 violations to restaurants and bars for disregard of social-distancing rules, most of them in New York City. Last week, a multi-agency task force in New York conducted nearly 1,100 compliance checks at restaurants and bars between July 21-23 and documented 84 violations.
In Texas, hundreds of bars reportedly opened over the weekend in an act of defiance dubbed “Freedom Fest,” despite a statewide shutdown ordered after a spike in COVID-19. Bar owners said the Fest was in part to protest that restaurants were allowed to remain open, albeit with limited capacity and safety protocols in place. News reports also indicated that coronavirus protocols were breached recently at restaurants and bars in Pittsburgh, Washington, D.C., Minnesota, Baltimore and Chicago, among others.
In the letter to governors, Lynch argued public mask requirements are effective and must be followed, saying restaurants that violate safety and health laws should not remain open. “Our industry truly believes that we are all in this together and that any bad actors are not representative of our industry,” he wrote.
Lynch said restaurants are unwavering in their commitment to customer and employee safety, and that the NRA worked with leading health agencies to develop guidelines for safe reopening.
From March through June, the height of the shutdown, the restaurant industry lost more than $145 billion in revenue, the NRA said. Just as eateries were planning to reopen in early July, more than 100,000 locations were shuttered again by state and local mandates.
“Closing the dining rooms of restaurants that are operating within the prescribed guidelines harms our communities and hinders our recovery,” the letter stated.
NACS has compiled resources to help the convenience retail community navigate the COVID-19 crisis. For news updates and guidance, visit our coronavirus resources page.