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Omicron is driving a wave of restaurant cancellations, but it’s not as stark as it was in 2020

Restaurant reservation trends reflect a fresh hesitance among would-be diners who were just getting used to eating indoors again.

Omicron is driving a wave of restaurant cancellations, but it’s not as stark as it was in 2020
[Source Images: RLT_Images/getty]

Indoor dining establishments across the world are getting battered by the ongoing omicron wave of the pandemic, but new data from SevenRooms—which makes software for restaurant reservations—indicates that the damage is not nearly as dramatic as it was when COVID-19 first struck.

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As omicron became the dominant strain in North America, restaurant reservation trends definitely reflected fresh hesitance among would-be diners, with cancellation rates jumping to 16.6% in December and January, according to data shared by SevenRooms with Fast Company. Globally, the rate of cancellations rose to 17.5%.

But both of those figures were small in comparison to March and April of 2020, when cancellation rates spiked to 72.5% in North America and to 44.3% globally.

Back then, restaurants and other venues were facing a lot more uncertainty, including local lockdown orders and other harsher restrictions that governments have been reluctant to repeat. In New York City, for instance, restaurants, bars, and even Broadway theaters have been allowed to remain open during the omicron wave, although many have closed temporarily due to outbreaks among staff or as a result of people calling in sick. Even before the highly contagious variant first reared its ugly head, retail businesses were up against staff shortages and reduced foot traffic.

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The good news is, the omicron wave may already be peaking in some cities that were hit early by it. Data tracking from the New York Times shows what could be a plateau in New York’s daily caseloads, although hospitals there are still overloaded and the situation on the ground remains dire. Let’s just hope those graphs we’re all obsessed with start trending downward soon!

This post has been updated to clarify that the cited data points were not rates of increase but the rates themselves.

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About the author

Christopher Zara is a senior news editor for Fast Company and obsessed with media, technology, business, culture, and theater. Before coming to FastCo News, he was a deputy editor at International Business Times, a theater critic for Newsweek, and managing editor of Show Business magazine

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