Dozens of states are reimposing restrictions intended to stop the COVID-19 virus from spreading out of control. California, Washington State, Michigan and Oregon have shut indoor dining back down.
In Chicago, a new stay-at-home advisory went into effect on Monday. The Mayor of Philadelphia introduced a sweeping set of new coronavirus rules, including a ban on most indoor gatherings. Michigan's governor announced more restrictions on eat-in dining and other activities. In Oregon, a two-week "freeze" began this week that will force retail stores to limit capacity to 75 percent.
NATSO has strongly urged government officials throughout the country to structure capacity limits based on a percentage of capacity rather than a one-size-fits-all limit on the number of people permitted to enter a building.
The National Restaurant Association is pushing back on the threat of broad coronavirus-related shutdowns, warning governors not to act on the "unfounded impression that restaurants are part of the problem" contributing to a new surge of virus cases across the country. "We continue to support aggressive steps to protect the nation's public health," the association said in its letter, adding that the industry is "suffering as a result of inconsistent, restrictive mandates. Tens of thousands of additional restaurant bankruptcies -- and millions of jobs -- are now more likely, while the science remains inconclusive on whether any health benefits would accrue."
The letter asks that governors provide "as much advance notice as possible" for new restrictions, clear metrics for lifting mitigation measures, that decision-making regarding restaurants be "based on facts and contact-tracing data, not hypothetical simulations of transmission," and that shutting down indoor dining be considered a last resort. President-elect Biden has said he will issue mandatory workplace safety rules that employers will have to follow to protect workers from coronavirus exposure. The Biden team thinks that a national set of rules for employers could help workers return more quickly to offices and other workplaces since everyone would be following the same emergency standard, rather than a patchwork of state-by-state, county-by-county regulations.
The issue threatens to set up a contentious battle with Republicans and the business community.The standard would reportedly lay out specific precautions that employers must take to protect their workers from exposure to the virus. People following the issue closely anticipate it will at least mandate the CDC's guidelines, which broadly suggest allowing for social distancing, frequently disinfecting the workplace and providing protective equipment such as gloves, goggles, or face masks.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce said that while it is confident the Biden Administration will listen to business' position, any emergency standard would need to be flexible enough to recognize employers' ability to implement public health safety measures to accommodate the differences in how businesses operate.
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