A number of Democratic governors are facing issues in their next elections after imposing destructive lockdowns and keeping citizens masked up all year. California is so tired of Gov. Gavin Newsom that they turned in more than 2.1 million signatures in order to trigger a recall election. And after seeing what he’s done to the restaurant industry, there’s no wonder why.
According to the California Restaurant Association, nearly a third of California’s restaurants have been permanently closed and two-thirds of workers who temporarily lost their jobs since Newsom imposed the nation’s first statewide lockdown. The Golden State employed more than 1.8 million people in the dining industry and included more than 76,000 eating and drinking establishments. Since the pandemic, over a million were left out of work and quickly furloughed. Last March, the National Restaurant Association predicted that 11% of restaurants could be closing permanently.
Dr. Matt Willis, Marin County Public Health Officer, blamed Gov. Newsom and state officials for lacking the evidence to back up their decisions to close outdoor dining. He said that the rationale was “not effectively communicated” and that the evidence of virus transmission during indoor dining was much more clear.
Health officials gave restaurant owners no time to ramp down employment, distribute food or supplies, and follow other preparations before giving abrupt shutdown orders. Restaurant owners said they had to adapt to new business models “on the fly” during the pandemic, such as curbside deliveries, disposable menus, and improvements to indoor airflow and filtering. Because the industry was in “uncharted territory,” 54% of operators made the switch to all off-premises services and 44% had to temporarily close down.
Gov. Newsom also received an outpour of criticism after photos leaked of him attending an in-person dinner at one of the state’s most expensive restaurants, the French Laundry. The dinner had 22 guests and ran up a bill of over $15k. Everyone was mask-less. While Newsom apologized for the incident, it was reported that they got so loud that other patrons complained. Reporters were told that the dinner guests are now privately laughing about the controversy.
Restaurant industries are just beginning to feel the crunch. Kevin McCarney, founder, and chief executive officer of Southern California’s Poquito Más restaurant said that this will be a “two-to-three-year recovery” and that restauranteurs will have to recover from the lost revenue in the meantime. Tens of thousands of restaurants ended up closing in California, with the entire industry losing $240 billion in 2020 alone. Some restaurant owners have said they don’t believe it is a “given” that they’re going to survive, especially since they’ve been digging out so much in funds over the last year.
According to the latest numbers from the state Employment Development Department, restaurant employment is still down one-quarter from before the pandemic and a lack of labor may shutter more establishments as the economy reopens.
Many GOP lawmakers have criticized President Joe Biden for continuing the additional $300/week in unemployment benefits, even though businesses are struggling to find employees. They said that the pay incentivizes people to stay home rather than search for a job and suggested an incentive program for employees to return to work. Employment still remains a quarter below what had existed prior to the pandemic throughout the state.
California has suffered enough under Gov. Newsom – no wonder they don’t want him for another term.