By: Daniel Phelps
While many restaurateurs suffer through another agonizing week of shelter-at-home orders, state and local governments are engaging in a polemical debate about when and how to open the economy. States such as Florida, Arizona and Mississippi are taking steps to end social distancing guidelines and reopen businesses as academic models forecast a “second wave” of infections and an increase in virus related deaths. While tactics and time-frames are often drawn between party lines and local concerns, experts agree that a full reopening of the economy will not happen until 70% of the population is immune to the virus. This is called Herd Immunity, and until a viable vaccine is mass produced or enough people are infected and recover, some form of social distancing or quarantine will be in effect. Until then, much of the US will go in and out of shelter-at-home orders for the next couple of years, and for those in areas with fewer restrictions, the fear of infection from dine-in restaurants will change consumer habits. This means more individuals and families ordering food from online delivery services, which presents another avenue for infection. Many restaurants are adapting to the changing market by redesigning their business models to be take-out and delivery only but doing little to protect their products from contamination. Due to lack of testing nation-wide, most asymptomatic carriers are unaware they are spreading the virus at all, and as of the writing of this piece, no major food delivery service is providing mandatory Coronavirus tests for their drivers. This is looking to be the new normal for the foreseeable future and tamper proof devices will be essential for the survival of restaurants in this shifting landscape. While many things are still uncertain, one thing is clear: the restaurants that will survive this pandemic won’t just sell food products, they will also sell peace of mind.