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Restaurants Are Closing In These States Due to Wildfires

Bad air quality and pandemic restrictions mean restaurants are scrambling.

Life hasn't been normal for restaurant owners, employees, and guests for a while now. The coronavirus pandemic and safety measures to prevent the spread of the virus forced thousands of eateries to close temporarily. Hundreds of thousands never got to open their doors ever again. As restrictions are lifting, though, some have to think about another devastating situation — West Coast wildfires.

Almost 90 wildfires that have burned 4.7 million acres of land are spreading smoke and ash from the West Coast up into Canada, the eastern part of the U.S., and even all the way to Europe. In total, 11 states are reporting large fires. But California, Oregon, and Washington are seeing such bad air quality that restaurants are closing for the time being. (Related: 100 Unhealthiest Foods on the Planet.)

Some are noticing smoke is affecting food quality. Many also can't operate their outdoor dining areas put into place because of COVID-19. One restaurant owner in Healdsburg, California spent $45,000 on a patio that was only open for five weeks before smoke blew into the area, according to Restaurant Business.

In order to keep everyone safe and healthy, one San Francisco bakery closed its doors recently. The owner told Nation's Restaurant News that she will continue to check the air quality number to determine if opening in the future is okay, even though employees are equipped with N-95 masks.

One burger chain with 40 locations is closing all their locations right now. Burgerville, based in Vancouver, Washington, is only allowing the Portland, Oregon airport restaurant to stay open. They only reopened a few locations last week after updating a few policies. No air from outside is brought into the restaurant. They are also trying to limit the number of times the doors open. This means they aren't operating a delivery service. Staff is switching around during drive-thru shifts. This limits their exposure to the outdoors, the director of strategic initiatives at Burgerville told the website.

While there is no definite answer as to when restaurants won't have to worry about poor air quality again, sign up for our newsletter to get all the latest news directly to your inbox every day.

Amanda McDonald
Amanda has a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University and a bachelor's degree in digital journalism from Loyola University Chicago. Read more about Amanda
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