For, it’s starting to look more like March 2020 than September 2021.

Cities across the country have tightened mask wear or insist on COVID-19 vaccination status as a way to inspire customer confidence and protect the community. However, in some areas, as the Delta variant casts a new cloud over the outlook for the industry.

In a recent consumer survey conducted by the National Restaurant Association, 19% of respondents said they had quit eating in response to the new wave of cases, and 37% said they ordered take-out instead of dine on site.

With fewer people in the restaurant; incomes have also started to decline. A, and need help.

“Before COVID, we averaged between 60 and 80 covers per day during our peak hours,” Antwan Smalls, co-owner of My Three Sons restaurant in North Charleston, South Carolina, told Yahoo Finance in a statement. maintenance.

“Right now that has been drastically reduced by almost 50-40%,” Smalls added.

Earlier this year, the end of blockades and mass vaccinations boosted dining, travel and recreation which data shows have started to decline. This makes the situation for the hospitality industry more dire now than it was at the start of the pandemic, as already another drop in revenues.

Smalls was able to get two streams of the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Disaster Lending Program – but it wasn’t enough. He ended up dipping into his retirement savings to keep his staff employed and the doors open.

While some owners do not have to take on more debt.

“We still have unpaid debts, I still pay. And that’s one of the reasons I went into my 401k just to maintain that, ”Smalls added.

A man wearing a face mask rides a bicycle in front of a sign posted on a boarded up restaurant in San Francisco, Calif. On April 1, 2020, during the novel coronavirus outbreak. – The death toll in the United States from the coronavirus pandemic topped 5,000 at the end of April 1, according to a current count from Johns Hopkins University. (Photo by Josh Edelson / AFP) (Photo by JOSH EDELSON / AFP via Getty Images)

Many small businesses have gone out of their way to stay afloat over the past year and a half. Some have pivoted their business model over and over, sometimes spending thousands of dollars to build outdoor dining structures to accommodate customers nervous about eating indoors.

Others have spent money on gloves, COVID-19 testing and implementing other CDC recommended practices to keep team members and guests safe.

Despite all efforts, however, restaurants and bars are struggling with major headwinds with the ever-rising virus.

“By the end of 2020, 90,000 businesses had closed permanently,” Erika Polmar, executive director of the Independent Restaurant Coalition, told Yahoo! Finance Live in a recent interview.

When the long-awaited federal help for the restaurant industry finally became available in May via the, restaurants across the United States believed the help was here to stay.

Unfortunately for the over 270,000 restaurants across the United States that initially applied, that lifeline never came. Only about 105,000 RRF applicants were awarded before the $ 28.6 billion reserve was exhausted.

Smalls is just one of the candidates still pending.

“It basically went from reviewing documents, to waiting for funding, to verifying the SBA, and then he just said he was just standing there. So I never heard, no you don’t understand at all, ”Smalls said.

Calls to Congress to replenish the RRF have since increased, but Congress has yet to take action.

“It is high time to replenish the fund so that the hundreds of thousands of people who need help can have some stability and get back to work,” Polmar said.

The situation is becoming increasingly desperate, with more than 82% of operators seen permanently shut down if federal money does not arrive, according to a new poll from the Independent Restaurant Coalition, which urged the House small business committee to prioritize restaurant relief during budget. talks.

“We need support to recover from the past year and a half and navigate the uncertain months ahead and to deal with things like rising costs of goods,” Polmar added.

Dani Romero is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @daniromerotv

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