The economic pain of the pandemic is disrupting the lives of restaurateurs and artists

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In this news, we discuss the The economic pain of the pandemic is disrupting the lives of restaurateurs and artists

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FREDERICKSBURG, Va. (Reuters) – The reality has yet to sink for Pepe Diaz that the beloved deli that he ran with his brother for more than 30 years is definitely closed.

“I miss the camaraderie with all the students and regular customers, all of that,” he said, in front of Howard Deli in Washington.

Before the pandemic, the store was a busy hangout in the neighborhood. But sales plummeted without the traffic of students from Howard University and the local high school.

To make matters worse, Diaz’s brother Kenny Gilmore has suffered multiple strokes. With bills piling up, the brothers closed the deli in January.

“It had to be the worst. Everything else, we survived, ”Diaz said of the pandemic.

Howard Deli is not alone.

By the end of 2020, about 17% of all American restaurants – about 110,000 – had closed long-term or closed for good, according to the National Restaurant Association.

Matt Strickland is determined his business won’t be next.

The owner of Gourmeltz in Fredericksburg, Va. Continues to operate his restaurant even though he said his license was revoked by health officials for failing to adhere to COVID-19 restrictions.

“The people who give us these warrants and regulations haven’t missed a single paycheck. They didn’t suffer like us, ”Strickland said.

Strickland said he had many supporters in the community. But health officials say they have received more than 50 complaints about Gourmeltz for flouting security measures such as wearing masks, according to local media.

The Spotsylvania County Department of Health did not respond to a request for comment.

The economic pain goes far beyond the restoration. The US economy lost 22 million jobs at the height of the pandemic and is still 10 million jobs lower than it was a year ago.

Before the pandemic, Sharon Clark spent 11 years as a full-time jazz singer, traveling to Russia, France and South Africa.

So when a year of concerts was canceled in early 2020, she panicked.

“For the first time in 11 years, I was wondering and asking God, ‘What am I going to do? Said Clark, single mother of a teenage daughter. “Who’s going to keep the cell phones on… who’s going to foot the cable bill?”

Clark said she was optimistic her singing work will resume by the summer.

“I’ll sing until I can’t anymore. But I’ll learn to do something else – just in case, ”she said.

Reporting by Vanessa Johnston; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

Original © Thomson Reuters

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