Due to COVID-19, but more specifically because of government edicts closing indoor and outdoor dining, the restaurant industry is in “free fall” with over 110,000 establishments now permanently closed. This number represents 17% of all restaurants nationwide that are gone for good.

The numbers come from a new report from the National Restaurant Association which sent a letter to Congress on Monday. The letter supports an additional relief package that could provide aid to the nation’s eateries.

“What these findings make clear is that more than 500,000 restaurants of every business type—franchise, chain, and independent—are in an economic free fall,” Sean Kennedy, executive vice president for Public Affairs of the National Restaurant Association, said in the letter. “And for every month that passes without a solution from Congress, thousands more restaurants will close their doors for good.”

The restaurant industry employs 15.6 million people, a significant portion of the U.S. workforce, who have been hard hit during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The association also found that 87% of restaurants have experienced an average 36% drop in sales. “For an industry with an average profit margin of 5%-6%, this is simply unsustainable,” the report notes.

Additionally, the association states, “The vast majority of permanently closed restaurants were well-established businesses, and fixtures in their communities. On average these restaurants had been in business for 16 years, and 16% had been open for at least 30 years.”

As Americans continue to recognize the catastrophic economic impact that government edicts attempting to reduce the spread of COVID-19 have had, more Americans are speaking out.

A recent editorial in the Colorado Springs Gazette called for governments to allow indoor dining to resume.

“Only 0.1% of Colorado’s COVID patients got the disease by dining in. It might be less risky than driving to the restaurant, considering that Colorado car crashes have killed about 400 people since the pandemic began,” the editors wrote.

“Reopen the restaurants and let their owners and employees recover from grueling financial hardship that is real, widespread and supported by data. We cannot avoid reasonable risks.”

And yet, many state and local authorities don’t seem to have gotten the message.

Last month, both Los Angeles County and the City of Los Angeles banned dining at restaurants, even if it was outdoors and socially distanced.

Since then, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge James Chalfant has issued a “tentative decision” calling the county’s ban on outdoor dining “arbitrary.” The judge said that the county did not perform the requisite analysis needed in order to ban dining outside.

However, Los Angeles County’s stay-at-home order currently supersedes any relief the judge may provide the restaurants, which means that despite the judges’ ruling, dining outside is still illegal.

Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott, apparently not learning from the Los Angeles’ judge’s rebuke, has also issued a new executive order banning indoor and outdoor dining effective December 11 at 5 PM.

And yet, despite more and more mayors taking the drastic action to close even outdoor dining, there is still little to no evidence that eating outdoors is a dangerous practice.

Admiral Brett Giroir, a four-star general who currently serves as Assistant Secretary for Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), recently said, “I don’t know of any data that says you need to shut down outdoor dining or outdoor bars.”

“We really wanted to limit the indoor crowded places, so, I think we need to do what’s necessary to turn the pandemic, but not more that’s not evidence based,” he added.

Throughout the pandemic, politicians and experts have urged Americans to “follow the science.”

And yet, many Americans are rightly skeptical when mayors, governors and local health officials take drastic action, harming the careers of thousands, based on science and data that does not exist.

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