As COVID-19 spreads, only essential businesses such as restaurants remain open and limiting their business to take out and delivery.
As businesses close, people question why restaurants are deemed “essential” and wonder if they would cause the virus to continue spreading by remaining open.
According to Dr. Eric Cioe-Pena, the director of global health for Northwell Health, restaurants are essential to the public because many health care workers may rely on restaurants to provide food as they work tirelessly in hospitals unable to go out and get weekly groceries.
The role of restaurants is crucial during these times because if they were to close, it would cause even more panic and longer lines at grocery stores.
According to Kerry Bowman, professor of bioethics and global health at the University of Toronto, having restaurants stay open helps alleviate anxiety for people fearing a food shortage, thus reducing the panic at grocery stores.
As a precaution to reduce the fear of spreading COVID-19, delivery companies such as Grubhub and UberEats created a “no-contact delivery” service in order to ease fears and keep customers and workers safe. CNBC reported that Starbucks now requires baristas to wash their hands every 30 minutes and no longer accepts reusable cups.
While fast food chains can survive the pandemic, restaurant analysts such as The National Restaurant Association estimates that 75% of small businesses that are closed during the pandemic will not make it which would lead to over five to seven million employees unemployed.
During this pandemic, family-owned restaurants struggle to get orders from customers through take-out or delivery. As orders for restaurants decrease, this causes layoff for waiters and waitresses, resulting in more unemployment.
The L.A Times reports that taqueros are especially struggling during this time. For many families, this is their sole source of income. While it seems easy to close everything for a month and reopen it once the pandemic has passed, the damage won’t impact fast food chains as much as it will to local businesses.
Money spent on local businesses directly supports the family who owns them, which is crucial during this time. The Washington Post reports how people are supporting local businesses by purchasing their gift cards as a way to keep them afloat.
As families stay home, local restaurants take an essential role in reducing the anxiety involved with food shortages and feeding those who are unable to go grocery shopping.