Restaurants Defy Indoor Dining Shutdowns to Survive Winter Season

Some restaurants are resisting shutdown orders as second COVID-19 wave surges

As restaurants face a new round of indoor dining shutdown orders amid rising coronavirus cases and colder weather, some are choosing to stay open in spite of the legal and public health consequences, arguing that it’s the only way that their businesses can make it through the pandemic.

Restaurants face fines, citations, and enforced closures if they don’t comply with dining bans, but it’s typically up to local authorities and health departments to police the offending businesses. For some owners, avoiding the loss of more business is worth the risk of staying open, the Wall Street Journal reports.

“We are NOT trying to be rebellious or are anti-masks, anti-people’s health or any of the other nonsense. This is a decision out of survival,” owners of Lockport Stagecoach, an Illinois restaurant, wrote on Facebook, Eater Chicago reported last month. Still more restaurants, bars, and industry groups are pushing back, with a handful attending rallies or filing lawsuits to fight dining restrictions, as Nation’s Restaurant News detail.

Restaurants have been linked to coronavirus transmission by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and researchers from Stanford University. The health risks of indoor dining — to both customers and, in particular, employees — are clear, as masks are off inside an enclosed space for long periods of time.

That restaurant operators are defying orders to remain closed despite risks to themselves and their workers highlight the difficult position that businesses find themselves in, caught between a public health crisis and an economic disaster, and a federal government that has done little to stem either. Never forget: the government could have paid businesses to remain closed and people to stay home.

And in other news…

  • Coca-Cola is allegedly among the major companies lobbying against a bill that would ban imported goods made with forced labor by Uyghur minorities in China’s Xinjiang region. [NYT]
  • While food delivery apps are booming in pandemic times, their workers say they are facing even more precarious working conditions. [NYT]
  • On the other end of delivery app transactions, some restaurants are eschewing platforms like Seamless and Uber Eats — which often charge them fees as as high as 30 percent — for local alternatives or DIY delivery. [CNN]
  • DoorDash, which recently agreed to pay $2.5 million in a tip-skimming settlement, is seeking up to $2.8 billion in an IPO. [Bloomberg]
  • As hunger levels have risen to historic levels in the U.S., so too have the number of Americans on SNAP. [The Counter]
  • ShopRite workers in Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey will be getting retroactive hazard pay, thanks to an agreement that their union reached with the company. [New Haven Register]
  • To few people’s surprise, Whole Foods founder and CEO John Mackey is anti-socialism, very pro-capitalism. [Newsweek]
  • Singer Rita Ora apologizes for throwing a party in a London restaurant in the middle of a lockdown. [The Guardian]
  • Food reporter Tim Carman writes about his experience getting COVID-19. [WaPo]

All AM Intel Coverage [E]

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