When Gov. Gary Herbert issued new COVID-related orders two weeks ago, included was an order for bars and restaurants to close by 10 p.m. in addition to the social distancing and seating arrangements already in practice at most establishments. Although that decree was later amended to allow later closing, it mandated that alcohol service end at 10 p.m.

This order will have a major impact on the hospitality industry, according to those in the business.

For most hospitality businesses, the coronavirus outbreak has caused significant financial hardship, and some fear the new directive will only make an already difficult situation even more challenging. Since March, the state has lost an estimated 450 establishments as a result of economic hardships caused by the coronavirus outbreak, according to the Utah Restaurant Association.

“In March, April and the first two weeks of May when the governor closed dining rooms, restaurant employment went from 109,000 people to 63,000 people,” said Restaurant Association President Melva Sine. “And since the governor opened dining rooms on just the weekend before Mother’s Day, between then and now we have built the industry back up to 93,000 people employed in the restaurant industry.”

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