Report: Omicron variant adding to restaurant owners’ pandemic struggles

ORLANDO, Fla. — A new report says the omicron COVID-19 variant is making life even more difficult for restaurant owners who had already been struggling to stay open.

Local hospitality experts said we may see even more businesses close before the pandemic is over.

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Owners say they need help.

According to the Independent Restaurant Coalition, 42% of businesses that did not receive restaurant revitalization funding were in danger or filed for bankruptcy.

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Eligible applicants to the program had requested more than $72 billion in funds, far more than the $28.6 million Congress had approved for the program.

According to the National Restaurant Association, more than 90,000 restaurants and bars across the country have shut down during the pandemic.

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Dr. Kevin Murphy, from the Rosen College of Hospitality Management at UCF, said state and local governments need to get involved and see what they can do in addition to other assistance to help relieve the stress our restaurant operators are under.

Murphy said if relief doesn’t come soon, he won’t be surprised if the number of restaurant closings reaches a quarter of a million by the end of the year.

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Karen Parks

Karen Parks, WFTV.com

Karen Parks is a reporter at WFTV.

Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.