Delta Variant Threatens Ohio Restaurants, Association Says!



The Ohio Restaurant Association is urging Congress to replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund immediately.

The spread of the COVID-19 virus’s delta variant has driven a statewide and national surge in new cases and hospitalizations, and now threatens some of Ohio’s most vulnerable businesses: restaurants.

In a letter to Congress, the Ohio Restaurant Association and 50 other state restaurant association partners urged officials to replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund. As of Tuesday, 6,804 applications from Ohio businesses are awaiting approval from the government. Together, the applications would provide $991 million in stabilizing funds.

More than 68 percent of eligible applicants have not received funding, the Ohio Restaurant Association said.

“There are thousands of Ohio small business owners stuck in limbo waiting to find out if Congress will act to provide stability they need to make it through this new pandemic threat and into the future,” said John Barker, president of the Ohio Restaurant Association. “The rise of coronavirus variants like delta threaten to push many restaurants, especially independents, closer to permanently closing their doors. It’s time for Congress to step in and fulfill the promise of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund.”

The fund was signed into law by President Joe Biden in March as part of his American Rescue Plan Act. The fund initially received $28.6 billion to provide relief to restaurants and other food and beverage businesses in the United States.

While annual restaurant sales are expected to increase nearly 20 percent versus 2020, they are still approximately 9 percent lower than their pre-pandemic levels, according to a report from the National Restaurant Association.

In addition, a survey found the majority of Americans have changed their dining habits in recent months due to the delta variant, the National Restaurant Association announced.

Here’s what else the survey found:

  • 19 percent of adults stopped going to restaurants due to the virus.
  • 9 percent of adults canceled plans to eat out in recent weeks.
  • 37 percent ordered takeout or delivery, rather than eat out.
  • 19 percent chose to eat on a patio rather than indoors.

In addition to the shift in dining habits, 11 states have indoor dining capacity limits, food and supply costs are increasing, and many restaurant owners are carrying long-term debt, the group said.

“For an industry that requires a ‘full house’ every evening to make a profit, this is a dangerous trend,” said Sean Kennedy, executive vice president of public affairs for the National Restaurant Association. “These changes indicate declining consumer confidence that will make it more difficult for most restaurant owners to maintain their delicate financial stability.”

Smiley face Smiley face Smiley face Smiley face Smiley face