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Virginia Shut Down Order Hammers Local Merchants, Restaurant Workers

Report: 78% of Va. restaurant workers have been laid off since March

More than 237,000 employees are out of work.

More than 237,000 restaurant employees in Virginia have been laid off or furloughed since March — 78% of all workers who were employed in February, according to the National Restaurant Association.

In a report issued Monday, the toll of COVID-19 has hit the nation’s restaurants hard, and in some cases, the numbers are even worse in Virginia. The restaurant association surveyed more than 6,500 restaurant operators April 10-16.

Some devastating highlights:

  • 94% of Virginia restaurant operators say they have laid off or furloughed employees since the beginning of the outbreak in March, and 21% expect they’ll lay off more workers in the next 30 days. Nationwide, 88% of operators have laid off or furloughed workers.
  • 99% of Virginia restaurants saw a decline in total dollar sales volume — on average, a 77% decline in sales from April 1-10. That’s compared to 97% of restaurants nationwide, which reported a 78% decline in sales the first week in April.
  • 29% of Virginia restaurants temporarily closed, and 32% anticipate closing temporarily in the next 30 days. Virginia’s numbers are lower than the national statistics, with 47% of restaurants temporarily closed and 43% expecting to close in the next month. None of the Virginia restaurant operators surveyed said they have permanently closed their restaurants, and only 3% said they expect to shut down.
  • 72% of Virginia restaurants are open for off-premises traffic, and 69% expect to operate pickup and/or delivery options in the next 30 days. Nationally, 60% are currently open for off-premises business, and 56% expect to continue for the next month.

The Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), part of the $2.2 trillion federal CARES Act, was supposed to assist restaurants and their employees. Now, only two weeks since it was launched, the $349 billion PPP has run out of money, and many independent owners say that they were not able to benefit because of loan restrictions.

RUTH CHRIS REAPS $20 Million Windfall 

Instead, large hotel and restaurant chains claimed millions of dollars in funding, including Ruth’s Chris Steak House, which received $20 million, and Shake Shack, which has pledged to return its $10 million funding after hearing complaints.

Currently, Congress and the White House are nearing a deal to add an additional $310 billion to the program, while some legislators and businesses are also lobbying for additional oversight to make sure that small restaurants don’t miss out this time.

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