by Donna Martinez
Former Senior Writer and Editor, John Locke Foundation
The only way to describe this is ‘catastrophe.’ Around 10,000 restaurants have closed — just since September. Some will never open again. Others don’t know what’s ahead, as CBS reports.
Restaurants are struggling with high levels of uncertainty, ranging from a decline in customer demand to local COVID-19 restrictions, said Ashwin Deshmukh, the owner of Short Stories, an all-day cafe and bar in New York City’s Bowery district.
Owners are “really worrying about not being able to cover fixed costs” amid what he calls the “demand destruction” caused by the pandemic,” Deshmukh told CBS MoneyWatch. His restaurant got funding through the PPP and the federal Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, which helped cover losses from the initial shutdown this spring.
“But it doesn’t cover 50% demand destruction and no predictability this summer,” he said. At the same time, Deshmukh’s costs are higher due to spending about $100 per week on personal protective equipment, as well as investing in building an outdoor dining area.
So how do we balance a very real public health crisis with a very real economic crisis? Forced shutdowns, like those we’ve endured here in North Carolina, are making the economic crisis worse. Now Gov. Cooper has cracked down again, imposing a curfew on people and businesses.
The John Locke Foundation research team has, for months now, provided important context to the challenges we face. Most recently, JLF Senior Fellow Joe Coletti talked with me about his new COVID-19 Misery Index, which looks at North Carolina’s deaths and job losses to give us a more comprehensive look at where we stand, and how we compare with other states. I hope you’ll watch our conversation below.