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WATCH: Small businesses in food industry testify about COVID-19 impact

Business owners and leaders in the food industry will testify Sept. 30 about the challenges food producers and retailers are facing amid COVID-19 and what lies ahead in the next several months as the pandemic continues.

Watch the hearing in the player above.

The House Committee on Small Business will hear from Kimberly Gorton, president and CEO of Slade Gorton & Co., testifying on behalf of the National Fisheries Institute; Jimmy Wright, president of Wright’s markets, testifying on behalf of the National Grocers Association; Rob Larew, president of the National Farmers Union and Colin Castore, president of the Ohio Brewers Association.

U.S. restaurants are moving warily into fall, hoping their slow recovery persists despite the new challenge of chilly weather and a pandemic that’s expected to claim even more lives.

New York opens indoor dining on Wednesday, restricting capacity to 25%. San Francisco may do the same as early as this week. Chicago is raising its indoor capacity from 25% to 40% on Thursday, but says restaurants still can’t seat more than 50 people in one room.

It’s a dose of reality for an industry that was able to stem at least some of its losses by pivoting to outdoor dining this summer, setting up tables and chairs on sidewalks and parking lots and offering some semblance of normalcy.

But as temperatures start to slide across the country, restaurants will have to coax patrons to come back inside, and it’s anyone’s guess how many actually will. That could spell trouble for an industry that has already lost nearly 100,000 U.S. restaurants — or 1 in 6 — since the start of the pandemic, according to the National Restaurant Association. The future remains uncertain for thousands more.

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