Restaurants will be first casualties
The coronavirus pandemic will “crush” the restaurant industry, said Derek Thompson, and the impact on the entire economy will be devastating. “Americans now spend more at restaurants than at grocery stores,” and today as many people are employed in food service as in manufacturing. Restaurants have become the lifeblood of many communities, including big cities. Now social distancing rules are shutting restaurants of all kinds, and limiting others to takeout service. More than 3 million waiters and waitresses may lose their jobs virtually overnight. “Already operating at paper-thin margins,” restaurants suffering partial or total loss of revenues still have to make their rent and loan payments. Soon, “the entire global leisure and retail economy” will face “mass layoffs, mass bankruptcy, or both.” Only massive federal intervention in the form of grants and cheap loans can keep restaurants from going broke; we also need a direct infusion of $1 trillion in cash to American consumers, so they can continue to keep ordering takeout until the crisis ends. If we don’t act now, most restaurants will be out of business on that happy day when we can safely return to sharing meals in public.