Good News, Bad News, and Uncertainty Moving Forward with COVID

New York City moves forward with its phase 4 of reopening but has paused indoor dining and shopping malls for now. (NYC)

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to threaten the bar and restaurant industry as rising case counts in nearly every state could lead to further pausing or reversal of reopening plans. However, despite the bad news, there are positive signals coming on the medical front as scientist across the globe race for a solution. Meanwhile, the CARES Act unemployment bonus is due to end at the end of this month and many in the hospitality industry worry how they will cover their bills as Congress works out the latest possible stimulus or bailout bill.

Bad News- New Coronavirus Cases Set New Highs

The United States continue to add record number of new cases, twice totaling more than 70k new daily cases two days last week. From a growth standpoint, Puerto Rick and Kentucky are seeing 200% increases in case counts this week compared to the previous one. For total counts, Florida and Texas saw their average new cases per day rise above 10,000 and they joined California and New York as the four states that have had over 300,000 total cases since March according to NPR

Due to the surging demand on hospitals beds, a number of states and counties continue to shut down bars and reduce capacity numbers. Chicago has shutdown indoor service for bars and breweries that do not serve food and the mayor of Los Angeles has said that a new stay-at-home order may be possible. This is after California has already shut down all bars for any type of service among other businesses. Meanwhile, New York City is moving to Phase 4 of their reopening plans but stopped short of allowing indoor dining amid concerns. New York Governor Cuomo has strongly critizied those that defy social distancing rules and has announced that bars and restaurants will face penalties and closures if their establishments are found in violation. He has urged officials and police to be more diligent in seeking out violations and cite business that are not following the social distancing and capacity guidelines.

Good News- Promising Vaccine Results

University of Oxford’s is working with AstraZeneca on human trials and early results show positives signs for both immune response and antibodies. This medicine has shown a dual response of increasing antibodies and immune T-cells that target COVID-19. 

In addition, Bloomberg reported that Pfizer and BioNTech also released early results from their latest study in Germany that produced antibodies and a T-cell response. This is a second study and builds upon the good news based on earlier results from a U.S. study that showed an effective response. 

Smaller companies like Synairgen have also announced COVID-19 treatments according to Bar & Restaurant's sister company, FierceBiotech.

Uncertainty News- What Will the Next Stimulus Provide

Donald Trump is due to meet with Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, today to discuss the latest options for coronavirus relief. In an interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, the President said that he is in strong favor of payroll tax cuts while many in the Republican Party are asking for business liability protections from lawsuits related to COVID-19 for at least five years. 

In the Democratic led House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi had a bill that has already passed but was ‘DOA’ in the Senate according to Mitch McConnell. The main questions that will require bipartisan support include providing financial relief for the 25 million unemployed Americans while also finding a way to incentive workers who can safely return to their duties. One of the top concerns bar and restaurants operators have voiced is finding staffing even when only needing a reduced workforce.

Another point of contention is how much relief to include for state and local governments that are facing financial difficutlites as their budgets go deeper into the red the longer this pandemic continues and how school reopenings should be included.

A bipartisan bill called the RESTAURANT Act or H.R. 7197 has been submitted for congressional review but there have been no major announcements recently. The bill proposed $120 billion in support of independent restaurants which would help stabilized the second biggest labor force in the U.S. and would see over $240 billion in economic activity from a result of this spending.

One of the sponsors of the bill, Senator Wicker, noted how over 100,000 restaurants have ceased operations in the last two weeks due to new mandates. This number threatens to turn into more premanent closures if government relief is not set aside for the hospitlaity industy itself.

For those that have not yet, please continue to apply pressure to elected officials but submitting letters via this form. With Congress due to extend their session, there needs to be as many voices as possible calling for support for the industry.