Kentucky Restaurants Say ‘Red Zone’ Recommendations Will Put Them (Further) In The Red

Oct 28, 2020

Credit Ryan Van Velzer

Kentucky restaurants say they can expect to see an immediate loss in customers following the latest round of coronavirus recommendations from Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, according to the Kentucky Restaurant Association.

Restaurant Association President Stacy Roof she’s disheartened the governor’s office has singled out the restaurant industry, which endured more than $550 million in losses in Kentucky in April alone. Her members are telling her they can see an immediate impact from the governor’s words.

“I’m glad to see that there’s encouragement to get food from restaurants in a carryout way. I’m discouraged by the fine print that kind of says stay out of dining rooms,” Roof said.

The latest guidelines from Beshear recommend residents opt for takeout and avoid dining-in at restaurants and bars in counties where COVID-19 infections are more than 25 cases per 100,000 residents.

As of Monday, those recommendations affected 55 counties including Warren and Jefferson.

It’s not necessarily good for the restaurant business, but Kentucky’s recommendations are in step with guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which consider on-site dining to be the highest risk for restaurant-goers.

A CDC study from September concluded adults who tested positive for the virus were about twice as likely to report dining at a restaurant than those who tested negative.

Still, few industries have suffered as much as restaurants amid the pandemic. In April alone, Roof said the industry laid off about 114,000 of the 200,000 restaurant workers employed in Kentucky.

Restaurants missed the bump in revenue normally brought about by the Kentucky Derby and now, are worried they’ll miss the holiday bump that ordinarily helps them through the winter, Roof said.

Most restaurants don’t expect to turn a profit this year, and about 20% are forecast to close, she said.

“I don’t know that there is any other industry that’s been hit quite as hard as restaurants and hotels have over the last few months,” Roof said. “A lot of these businesses aren’t going to be with us. It’s on all of us to figure out how to keep these gems going over the next however long.”

Roof said she’d like to see the state put some of its CARES Act funding aside specifically for restaurants. In the meantime, she’s encouraging people to buy takeout and gift cards.