New Jersey Enters Stage 2 of Reopening
Murphy says stage 3 could come in a month. More restrictions are being lifted in New Jersey as the state enters Stage 2 of its reopening Monday. Restaurants across the state can begin offering outdoor dining and non-essential retailers can also allow customers back indoors. Both businesses must follow safety and sanitizing protocols. Tables at restaurants must be spaced six feet apart and stores are limited to 50% capacity. Customers and employees must also wear masks or face coverings. “I’m not going to necessarily give you a date, but I think a month from now if we keep making the progress that we’ve made over the past month on the health care data I think you’re going to see us comfortably getting into Stage 3,” said Murphy.
Running on Fumes
Restaurants trying to reopen face cash crunch. Restaurants are slowly resuming dine-in service after nearly every state required, they suspend it in March because of the coronavirus. Limited dine-in service has resumed statewide in 38 states, according to investor research firm Gordon Haskett, though sales at sit-down restaurants remain down by double-digits from last year. In many ways, the reopening has turned out to be harder than the closing because it is nearly impossible to predict revenues amid social distancing, while fixed costs remain the same. The biggest problem is cash. Many restaurants get their food on credit and pay 30 days later with the revenue they have earned from selling it. Many never sold the food they bought before the shutdown and haven’t paid for it. Some suppliers won’t deliver new food on credit unless some of the old bills are paid.
Here’s What Outdoor Dining Looked Like in Philadelphia
During the first weekend of reopening. Philly’s food scene came alive over the weekend with restaurants and bars jumping to set up outdoor tables on sidewalks and patios as soon as they got the go-ahead from the city, after being limited to takeout only for three months during the coronavirus pandemic. Outdoor dining, with social distancing and hygiene regulations, kicked off June 12. Officially, only restaurants with licenses for sidewalk or patio seating were able to offer outdoor dining immediately. Restaurants without a license can apply for a few different options, from sidewalk cafes to street closures. One option involves turning a curbside parking area into a small dining area, which the city is dubbing a “streetery.” Even with tables spaced apart and masks on, the atmosphere was jubilant, with Philadelphians relieved to get back to restaurants.
Restaurant sales Remain Well Below Normal Levels
Despite May uptick. As local economies begin to reopen and ease dining restrictions, many consumers are standing by to burn off the pent-up demand that they accumulated during the lockdowns. However, despite the sales uptick in May, the restaurant industry’s business environment is far from normal, and overall losses continue to mount. Eating and drinking places registered sales of $38.6 billion on a seasonally adjusted basis in May, according to preliminary data from the U.S. Census Bureau. While that was up nearly $9 billion from April, it remained nearly $27 billion down from the pre-coronavirus sales levels posted in January and February.
Trump Administration Wants to Replace $600 Unemployment Benefits
With back-to-work bonus. The Trump administration wants to end enhanced unemployment benefits and replace them with a different policy, according to a senior aide. Federal coronavirus relief legislation enacted in March authorized jobless Americans to receive an extra $600 a week in unemployment benefits. Those payments are scheduled to end after July 31. The administration, in line with many congressional Republicans, wants the $600 payments to end and believes they provide a disincentive to find work or return to a job. The administration supports replacing the enhanced benefits, which are paid on top of traditional state-level benefits, with a cash bonus encouraging people to rejoin the workforce.
N.J. Senate OKs Tax Breaks
For casinos hit by coronavirus. New Jersey lawmakers voted for a scaled back set of tax breaks for Atlantic City casinos on Monday after social services providers for the elderly and people with disabilities warned the first version of the plan endangered funding for their programs. Under the revised bill, casinos will have to pay hotel and parking fees due to the state in 2020. The version passed Monday still offers gambling houses a break on their gross revenue that reflect lost income, but for one year instead of two as part of a package of proposals lawmakers said was needed to help casinos bounce back from more than three months of lost business.
Take a Look Inside a Reopened Chili’s Restaurant
Chili’s customers will notice some big changes to the chain’s reopened dining rooms. Like most restaurants across the country, the casual dining chain is reopening its dining rooms after months of its tables sitting idle and relying on takeout and delivery sales. About 82% of Chili’s and its more upscale sister chain Maggiano’s Little Italy have welcomed back dine-in customers as of June 9. But the restaurants can’t revert to business as usual. Instead, the two chains are modifying their locations to follow the guidelines set out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local and state governments. Wait staff wear gloves and masks. Trimmed-down menus are now disposable. Some tables are marked with X in tape as customers space out across the dining room.
Did You Know?
Vacation plans slashed for this summer. Many Americans remain out of work due to the coronavirus outbreak, but the expectation for most is that a new normal is just around the corner. The vast majority in a Monmouth University Poll feel confident about their own financial stability, but there has been a slight dip in confidence that the country can rein in the pandemic’s impact in the coming weeks. Most expect they will have to make permanent changes in how they interact with other people because of it. Other poll results show that the number of families with summer vacation plans has more than halved due to the outbreak. While the long-term outlook might be positive, the pandemic has disrupted vacation plans. Before the outbreak, 63% of Americans planned to take a trip for their summer vacation. Now, only 14% are definitely (8%) or probably (6%) sticking with those original plans. An additional 12% say they are likely to revise their original plans, equating to just 1 in 4 Americans who are definitely (13%) or probably (13%) going to take a vacation trip this summer.
Should you consolidate debt during the coronavirus pandemic? The coronavirus pandemic has left tens of millions of Americans out of work, and the financial ramifications of staying at home has plenty of consumers worried about mounting bills and debt. If you’re concerned about paying off a growing amount of debt, this may seem like a good time to think about consolidating debt with better financing terms. A recent rate cut by the Federal Reserve has pushed down interest rates for some of the most common tools for consolidating debt, like personal loans, balance transfer credit cards and home equity loans. If you think debt consolidation might work for you, consider the benefits and drawbacks.
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