Star Fish Co. in Cortez, before the pandemic.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, two out of three American restaurant workers have lost their jobs, and more than 8 million restaurant employees have been laid off or furloughed. Those figures come from a new National Restaurant Association survey of 6,500 restaurants around the country.

"The restaurant industry has been the hardest hit by the coronavirus mandates – suffering more sales and job losses than any other industry in the country," writes Sean Kennedy, the association's executive vice president of public affairs, in a letter to Congress sent this week.

The survey estimates that the restaurant industry will lose $80 billion in sales by the end of April. Even if there is a "gradual reopening of the economy" that begins in June, Kennedy warns that lost sales will total $240 billion by the end of the year.

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