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'In many ways, we're collapsing'; Iowa Restaurant Association on financial damage of COVID-19

The Iowa Restaurant Association said revenue is down 84% this year compared to the same time last year

DES MOINES, Iowa — With daily life upended in Iowa and across the nation because of COVID-19, the Iowa Restaurant Association is warning of the financial pain many businesses are facing. 

The group, which surveyed various businesses like bars and restaurants, found revenues have dropped 84% in March 2020 so far compared to the same time last year.

The association said despite measures to "flatten the curve," they could have negative long-term impacts. 

"The picture is grim," said Jessica Dunker, president and CEO of the Iowa Restaurant Association, said in a release. "We knew the precautionary step that shuttered large portions of our industry in an effort to fight the spread of the coronavirus would be detrimental, but our initial numbers indicate that for as many as 20% of our operators, there may be no coming back."

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The Iowa Restaurant Association Study Found: 

  •     35% of hospitality establishments (all categories) are currently closed 
  •     91% of bars are currently closed 
  •     82% of restaurants and bars have laid off employees

Although bars and restaurants can offer carry-out and delivery, that is not seen as a "silver bullet."

"82 percent of restaurants and bars across the state have or intend to lay people off," Dunker said in an interview with Local 5. "... In many ways, we're collapsing. For some, the many things that the state and federal governments are trying to roll out, they just can't come quickly enough.

She also noted restaurants offering just carry-out are doing a fraction of the sales before closing their restaurants to dine-in orders.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends frequent hand washing, avoiding close contact and staying home if you are sick as main areas of focus for prevention and containment of COVID-19.

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