Reopening indoor dining at 25% capacity ‘just doesn’t work’: New Jersey Business & Industry Association president

New Jersey Business and Industry Association president warns restaurants can’t survive on 25% capacity

New Jersey restaurants continue indoor dining at 25% capacity as New York City awaits reopening on September 30; insight from Michele Siekerka, New Jersey Business and Industry Association president.

As New York City restaurants gear up to reopen indoor dining at a quarter capacity, New Jersey Business & Industry Association President Michelle Siekerka said the coronavirus-induced limitations have proven to not be enough.

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“It just doesn’t work,” she told Fox News’ “Your World with Neil Cavuto.” “Many restaurants remain closed because they didn’t have large capacity to begin with. And then complying with an executive order that limited them to 25% would be a money-losing proposition.”

Siekerka said New Jersey’s $18.2 billion restaurant industry provides more than 228,000 jobs. But only 23% of employees out of the 87% laid off in March have returned to work, which she pinned as a “huge struggle” for the industry.

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“They can't sustain on 25%,” she said. “In fact, many tell us that they won't even break a profit at 50%. They really need to be getting back up to 100% in order to survive.”

A restaurant server wears a mask at 46th Street which has been temporarily converted to “Restaurant Row” for outdoor dining during the fourth phase of the coronavirus pandemic reopening on September 06, 2020 in New York, New York. (Photo by Roy Rochl

And there’s only a short amount of time left where restaurants can lean on outdoor dining for survival, as the weather begins to cool down.

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“The time is very limited in order to ensure that we can continue to have outdoor dining, help to support indoor dining,” she said. “We really need relief on indoor dining.”

According to the National Restaurant Association, she added, 35% of small independent restaurants “will not reopen and will close by the end of the year.”

“Those are statistics that should really, really frighten us,” she said.

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