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Fears of new capacity restrictions surge among restaurants

The delta variant of coronavirus has operators more worried than colleagues in other fields that the U.S. is hurtling into a return of 2020.
Photograph: Shutterstock

About 9 out of 10 restaurateurs are worried the delta strain of the coronavirus will derail the industry’s comeback, with the fear particularly strong in states that were among the hardest hit during 2020, according to new research.

Across all small businesses, more than 47% fret that the upsurge in COVID-19 cases will trigger another wave of business restrictions and shutdowns, online referral service Alignable found in a poll of more than 5,100 enterprises.

Rounding out their top concerns are three more potential threats:

  • Customers will get scared and stop leaving their homes.
  • Consumers’ businesses and employers will close again, quickly drying up potential customers’ disposable income.
  • Surging infections will diminish the pool of potential employees and customers while throwing the supply chain into further disarray.

The pandemic’s impact on labor and supplies is already raising concerns about margins, Alignable found. Worries about commodity and wage inflation already fall high up the ranking of respondents’ fears.

No other industry was as fearful of the delta mutation’s impact as restaurants were. Lodging and other travel businesses were close behind, with a fear level of 87%, followed by the events industry and photographers.

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