31% of Small Businesses Reinstate Virus Restrictions

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That’s the share of small businesses that have reinstated pandemic restrictions because of rising coronavirus cases, new survey results show, highlighting how the delta variant can hurt the economy.

Many people and businesses have become more cautious during the delta-driven resurgence, avoiding or imposing limits on higher-contact activities like dining at restaurants and traveling as the economy struggles to fully recover from the pandemic crash. 

Survey results released Tuesday by American Express’s Kabbage show the share of businesses that describe themselves as “fully open”—or without any pandemic-era measures—shrunk to 63% in its most recent survey (taken July 27-Aug. 17) from 85% in May. Another 31% reinstated COVID-19 restrictions voluntarily, and the remaining 6% said they were still closed due to the pandemic. Restrictions encompassed any limit triggered by the pandemic, Kabbage said, including reducing store or restaurant capacity, eliminating in-store shopping, mandating face masks, or imposing vaccination requirements for customers.

Economists have been lowering their forecasts for growth in gross domestic product after consumer sentiment fell to its lowest level since 2011 last month and improved only very slightly in mid-September. Households shifted their spending patterns in August, favoring groceries and online shopping as sales at restaurants and bars leveled off. 

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