Online restaurant reservation service OpenTable has reported a "sharp decline" for restaurants in the last week as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.
"Looking at comprehensive data from restaurants on our platform — across online reservations, phone reservations, and walk-ins — we note sharp declines over the last week," OpenTable COO Andrea Johnston said in a blog post on Friday. "The COVID-19 pandemic is making many of us stay home and our community of nearly 60,000 restaurants is facing a severe reduction in diners."
According to OpenTable's detailed report of industry trends, reservations stayed stable in February with a big increase on Valentine's Day, but drastically dipped in March as the coronavirus spread across the globe.
As of Saturday, diners in the United States were down more than 40 percent year-over-year. Locations where diners were hit hardest, including Seattle, New York and Boston, were down more than 60 percent, followed by 58 percent in San Francisco, 49 percent in Chicago and 47 percent in Los Angeles.
Despite growing fears of the coronavirus, Johnston stressed the importance of continuing to support local restaurants.
"Please support your local restaurants during this turbulent time, as they are a vital part of our communities. Many operate on thin margins and fear staff layoffs and shut downs," Johnston said.
"Restaurants are already required to operate under the strictest health codes and are monitored at the local level — but we are seeing many of them go above and beyond. They are taking swift action to protect diners, such as by distancing tables and dedicating staffers to full-time sanitizing," she added.
She recommended using OpenTable's home delivery feature on their app or buying local restaurant's gift cards for future use. The company also posted guidance for how restaurants can handle "downturns in business."
"We’re working with restaurant associations in their discussions for government relief," she said. "We will soon share daily information on dining trends via a public website until this crisis passes. We are all in this together."