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The Centers for Disease Control reported the community spread of the coronavirus, or COVID-19, in California, Oregon, Washington State, New Hampshire and Georgia.

Restaurant industry braces for coronavirus impact

Possible outbreak could fuel ‘massive’ shift in attitudes toward delivery, says Zume CEO Alex Garden

The restaurant industry continued this week to prepare for dealing with a growing number of coronavirus cases, with at least one executive forecasting a resulting shift toward delivery.

The Centers for Disease Control reported the community spread of the coronavirus, or COVID-19, in California, Oregon and Washington State, where six people had died from the respiratory virus. As of Tuesday morning, more than 100 cases had been identified in 15 states, with most recent being New Hampshire and Georgia.

Alex Garden, CEO and chairman of the Mountain Valley, Calif.-based Zume Inc. pizza-technology brand, said that while everyone hopes that Covoid-19 will go away, the impact will be likely felt in the restaurant industry.

“If we look around the world to where this is really unfortunately taking hold and really changing people’s way of lives,” Garden said at the RestaurantSpaces conference in Pasadena, Calif. “They are being confined to their homes. What do you think will happen to delivery habits if people are confined to their homes for a couple weeks? 

Alex_Garden_Zume_RestaurantSpaces.jpg“It is going to fundamentally shift the attitudes that the majority of Americans have toward that convenience,” Garden, left, said. “I think we are going to see a massive change toward delivery in the next probably six to eight weeks. It’s not going anywhere.”

The National Restaurant Association, meanwhile, said the nation’s more than 15 million restaurant employees who serve customers across the country were trained in safe food preparation.

The NRA offered an online resource to help operators and workers mitigate risks.

The Golden Gate Restaurant Association said San Francisco Mayor London Breed’s announcement of a state of emergency Feb. 25 around the coronavirus helps the city prepare for a possible local outbreak.

“As restaurant owners and chefs, we always follow the stringent Department of Public Health regulations in our establishments every day, and will continue to do so – from hand washing, to food safety, to encouraging employees not to come to work should they feel sick,” said Laurie Thomas, acting director of the GGRA, in a prepared statement. “We want to reiterate that our restaurants and bars remain open for business and welcome your support.”

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected]

Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless

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