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Number of People Willing to Risk Choking to Death Alone to Eat In at Ruby Tuesday’s Surprisingly Limited

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Again, you can declare restaurants open, but you can’t make customers go:

At this point, a number of states have begun lifting stay-at-home orders and allowing nonessential businesses to reopen, with the hope that they can start unthawing their economies even if the coronavirus hasn’t been fully contained.

But the defrosting process seems to be going slowly—at least if you judge by the number of people brave enough to eat out. At restaurants that use OpenTable’s booking software, the number of diners in every state where the company tracks data was still down by 82 percent or more through Sunday, compared to a year before. That includes early reopeners like Georgia (down 92 percent), Utah (down 91 percent), Nebraska (down 90 percent), South Carolina (down 89 percent), Tennessee (down 87 percent), Texas (down 83 percent), and Oklahoma (down 82 percent).

And even if those numbers go up over time, it’s not like a 60% reduction in customers leaves most restaurants with a viable business either. But denial and Fox News are both apparently a hell of a drug.

On the other hand, opening up WILL fulfill the critical Republican goal of making retail workers take a pay cut to put their health at risk, which one suspects is the real point:

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