ALBANY — New York's restaurant industry has already lost nearly $2 billion in sales and slashed 250,000 jobs due to the novel coronavirus, a new report released this week found.
The report, issued by the National Restaurant Association, found New York restaurants have lost $1.9 billion in sales — a 58% decrease compared to this time last year — and have been forced to slash more than 250,000 jobs in the first 22 days of March.
Restaurants have been impacted nationwide by COVID-19, but those in New York are "among the hardest hit," Melissa Fleischut, president and CEO of the state's Restaurant Association, said.
"Many restaurants have already closed and will never reopen, and restaurant employees are out of work, trying to figure out what’s next," Fleischut said in a statement.
The report comes less than two-weeks since Gov. Andrew Cuomo limited all bars and restaurants in the state to takeout and delivery on March 16 in order to contain the spread of COVID-19, which has infected more than 60,000 New Yorkers and has led to nearly 1,000 deaths as of Sunday.
The rising numbers have pushed Cuomo to take drastic action, shuttering all schools and non-essential businesses in the state and banning all large gatherings until at least mid-April.
But with experts saying the worst is yet to come, thousands of more restaurants may soon be closing their doors, the report found.
A closer look at the numbers
The report surveyed more than 4,500 restaurants across the country.
It found restaurants have lost more than $25 billion in sales combined and have had to cut more than 3 million jobs between March 1 and March 22.
A total of 70% of those surveyed said they were forced to lay employees off because of COVID-19, with 50% saying they plan to do so in the next 30 days.
Three percent of operators have already closed their restaurants and 11% reported plans to do so within the next 30 days, the report found.
And 44% of restaurant owners said they plan to temporarily close their doors.
What about New York restaurants?
In New York, the numbers were even more stark.
There were more than 50,000 eateries in the state as of 2018, according to the National Restaurant Association.
Combined they accounted for over $51 billion in annual sales and more than 856,000 jobs, a number projected to grow by nearly 50,000 by 2029, according to the Restaurant Association.
But since the pandemic hit, 5% of restaurants have closed their doors permanently in the state, with another 12% anticipating taking similar action in the next month, the report found.
And 48% of restaurant operators said they have plans to temporarily close their restaurants in the next month, compared to 44% nationwide.
What can you do?
New York has taking several steps to assist ailing businesses.
Earlier this month, Cuomo announced a 90-day moratorium on evictions for all residential and commercial properties, providing at least temporary relief for owners worried about making rent.
And the state's Liquor Authority temporarily revised its regulations to allow alcoholic beverages to be delivered so long as they are in a closed container and are ordered with food.
But the state's Restaurant Association is urging people to order takeout as a way of supporting the struggling industry.
"We urge everyone to utilize takeout and delivery from their favorite restaurants during this difficult time," Fleischut said
Restaurants are an important piece of the local economy and must be around to assist with the eventual recovery.”