By Ruth Bayang
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
Putting people out of business and ending dreams.
That’s what Washington Hospitality Association (WHA) President and CEO Anthony Anton said Gov. Jay Inslee is doing.
On Dec. 8, Inslee announced that he is extending current restrictions on businesses and social gatherings through Jan. 4 due to a continued spike in new coronavirus cases.
Anton said the restaurant and hospitality industry is being targeted for a problem they are not causing.
“When you track cases back to where they came from, they’re not coming from restaurants. And when they follow the rules (reduced capacity, wearing masks while mingling, staying 6 feet apart), we’re finding almost no cases coming back to restaurants,” he said.
According to the WHA, the four-week restriction cost the restaurant industry in Washington an estimated $8 million.
Of all the restaurants that have closed permanently for the first six months of the pandemic, approximately 1 in 5 serve Asian cuisine. And 90% of the restaurants closed are independent, not part of a local or national chain.
“Restaurants have extremely high safety standards that keep our guests safe. We could have offered people a safe and responsible means of gathering, but cases have only climbed while we’ve been closed. Nine months in, there is no plan to address the harm this has caused to our industry.”
The total loss for 2020 is estimated to be $10 billion.
“Please keep ordering out,” Anton urged Washingtonians.
The current set of restrictions that took effect last month—including limiting restaurants and bars to to-go service and outdoor dining—were set to expire Dec. 14, but will now be extended an additional three weeks.
Inslee also announced spending $50 million in federal funds for additional grants for businesses, on top of the $135 million in grants, loans and other assistance he announced two weeks ago to help businesses and workers impacted by the restrictions.
Ruth can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.