COVID-19

As states lift restrictions, are people going back to stores and restaurants?

Marielle Segarra Jun 12, 2020
Heard on: Marketplace
HTML EMBED:
COPY
People dine on a restaurant patio in Connecticut in late May. Some people feel more comfortable dining outside at a restaurant but aren't ready to sit in a dining room yet. John Moore/Getty Images
COVID-19

As states lift restrictions, are people going back to stores and restaurants?

Marielle Segarra Jun 12, 2020
People dine on a restaurant patio in Connecticut in late May. Some people feel more comfortable dining outside at a restaurant but aren't ready to sit in a dining room yet. John Moore/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has decided to lift many of the state’s remaining restrictions on stores and restaurants, even as Georgia’s coronavirus cases and hospitalizations continue to climb.

Meanwhile, other states are seeing a jump in cases, including Arizona, Texas, Florida and California. A month ago, I talked to folks around the country about whether they were willing to go back to stores and restaurants as they reopened. I checked back in to see how things have changed.

A lot can change in a month. States have relaxed their restrictions, and many of us have relaxed, too.

When I last talked to Collin Adams, who lives in Kingsport, Tennessee, he and his wife were not going out to restaurants. They’ve started to make exceptions — like for their 10th anniversary a couple weeks ago.

“We made sure we kind of went not during a peak time,” Adams said. “[We] kind of pulled into the parking lot and looked to see if there was a wait time or anything. It was actually very, very well done.”

It wasn’t crowded, and the servers were wearing masks.

“In the back of my mind the whole time was ‘should I be doing this?'” Adams said. “I won’t say it was the most enjoyable experience.”

In Nashville, Dana Franks said she isn’t going out much. It kind of depends on how careful she thinks the restaurant or store is being. She eats at a nearby Waffle House.

“They have put up shower curtains between the booths, which is kind of weird, but I guess it’s effective,” Franks said. “I feel safe as can be in there because they really do take a lot of care.”

She’s also gone to the shoe store and tried on some sandals. She’s not too worried about transmission through her feet.

Then there’s James Smith in Phoenix. His sister had the virus more than a month ago and she’s still recovering. He has eaten at one restaurant, outdoors. He’s not comfortable with sitting inside. 

“We just saw notices from two restaurants saying, ‘We had somebody here with COVID, we’re going to close down,'” Smith said.

None of the folks I talked to said they’ve gone back to normal. They’re just not quite there yet.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

What’s the latest on the extra COVID-19 unemployment benefits?

As of now, those $600-a-week payments will stop at the end of July. For many, unemployment payments have been a lifeline, but one that is about to end, if nothing changes. The debate over whether or not to extend these benefits continues among lawmakers.

With a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases, are restaurants and bars shutting back down?

The latest jobs report shows that 4.8 million Americans went back to work in June. More than 30% of those job gains were from bars and restaurants. But those industries are in trouble again. For example, because of the steep rise in COVID-19 cases in Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, increased restrictions on restaurant capacities and closed bars. It’s created a logistical nightmare.

Which businesses got Paycheck Protection Program loans?

The numbers are in — well, at least in part. The federal government has released the names of companies that received loans of $150,000 or more through the Paycheck Protection Program.

Some of the companies people are surprised got loans include Kanye West’s fashion line, Yeezy, TGI Fridays and P.F. Chang’s. The companies you might not recognize, particularly some smaller businesses, were able to hire back staff or partially reopen thanks to the loans.

You can find answers to more questions on unemployment benefits and COVID-19 here.

As a nonprofit news organization, our future depends on listeners like you who believe in the power of public service journalism.

Your investment in Marketplace helps us remain paywall-free and ensures everyone has access to trustworthy, unbiased news and information, regardless of their ability to pay.

Donate today — in any amount — to become a Marketplace Investor. Now more than ever, your commitment makes a difference.