Coronavirus outbreak forces fast food franchises to ask government for help

Updated: Mar. 25, 2020 at 12:24 PM EDT

WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Americans expect to find their fast food restaurants always open, but the coronavirus outbreak has some franchise owners taking a hard look at their bottom line.

At one Washington, D.C. fast food restaurant, cars line up in the drive thru lane and a worker rushes out with a meal. But inside, the tables sit empty. The public is directed to stay home, and restaurant dining rooms are closed.

“It’s bad,” International Franchise Association spokesman Stephen Worley told us. The association represents the $670 billion franchise industry.

They might look busy now, but he says fast food restaurants and their employees are hurting during the coronavirus pandemic.

“It means that less money comes in for these businesses to keep employees payrolled and continue providing benefits and continue being these pillars of the community that they are,” Worley said.

While most fast food restaurants have a nationally recognized logo on their building, many are locally owned. Owners are responsible for maintaining operations, standards, and quality of the franchise brand.

“They are your neighbor. They are your family members. They hire people in your neighborhood,” Worley said.

Without immediate assistance, Worley said, tens of thousands of franchisees might not be able to make ends meet in the next 45 days. So, they’re turning to the government for help.

Franchises want federal funding to help cover their employees’ paychecks and benefits.

Less than half of workers in the accommodation and food services industry have paid sick leave, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Congress is standing by the industry. The Senate and White House came to an agreement Wednesday on the latest coronavirus relief package, which includes some of the immediate funding franchisees were hoping for.

So, while our nation battles the coronavirus outbreak, many of your locally owned fast food restaurants want you to know they’re still open for business.

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