New Jersey

Nearly 40% of New Jersey Restaurants May Close Within 6 Months: Poll

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More than a third of restaurants in New Jersey predict they'll have to close in the next six months, according to a new poll.

The New Jersey Restaurant & Hospitality Association on Tuesday called on Congress to pass a financial aid package before recessing next week to help out restaurants and other small businesses struggling to get customers amid the pandemic.

Jack Panico says no matter the steps he's taken at his Ridgewood salon, the clients just aren't coming in like before.

"The scare factor and the narrative out there and everybody's hearing and going through are taking away from small businesses," Panico said. "Everything is very hypocritical out there what's going on with government and businesses. And where is the PPP money for these businesses?"

No other industry has lost more jobs and more revenue than the restaurant industry, according to Sean Kennedy of the National Restaurant Association.

The average restaurant that shuttered permanently has been serving the community for 16 years, Kennedy added.

With the NJRHA estimating 37% of restaurants in the state will close because of the pandemic, Sen. Corey Booker and Bob Menendez on Tuesday joined a virtual round table with the state restaurant association.

"We’ve got to get something real done and right now...but we also know 2021 is going to be a tough year for our economy," Sen. Booker said.

Several proposed bills on the table could bring aid for small businesses but it all depends on whether Democrats and Republicans can find a common ground before year's end --- before it's too late to save business owners.

"If Congress leaves town without doing anything and doesn't come back to really move legislation until President-Elect Biden is sworn in January 21, thousands more restaurants will close," Kennedy warned.

Businesses also hope Congress will pass a liability measure that will prevent people from suing them if they contract COVID-19 in their businesses, but Booker said there has been very few of those cases.

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