CNBC | Alex Sherman | May 9, 2020

The Covid-19 pandemic continues to disrupt economies and lives in ways we never could have imagined. But the world won’t stay on lockdown forever.

We asked public health and industry experts to share their thoughts on what things will look like when the pandemic finally recedes. In this segment of our series “The Next Normal,″ we look at what experts are saying about when restaurants and bars may reopen for business.

Restaurants and bars have been among the hardest-hit businesses during coronavirus quarantines. While some establishments will reopen with limited capacity sooner rather than later, the sector is likely to face widespread decimation, according to industry and health experts.

The National Restaurant Association projected the industry would take in $899 billion in sales in 2020 before coronavirus quarantines swept across the country. But most depend on consistent cash flow to keep their doors open and people employed. Since widespread lockdowns began in March, more than 8 million restaurant industry employees have lost their jobs or have been furloughed, according to a survey of 6,500 establishments by the association. That equates to a loss of $80 billion through April, and up to $240 billion by the end of the year.

While some restaurants and bars have pivoted to offering takeout and delivery, many others chose to close their doors entirely for the duration of local lockdowns. That could be a death knell for thousands of locations. The California Restaurant Association estimated in late March that 30% of the state’s 90,000 restaurants would not survive the crisis.

Restaurant owners are facing steep costs to reopen, including hiring back staff, paying off invoices and replacing spoiled ingredients. Even the country’s best restaurants won’t bounce back from prolonged closures.

“There is definitely a question mark over Eleven Madison Park — if it will reopen,” Daniel Humm, the owner of the three-Michelin-star New York restaurant, told Bloomberg Pursuits this week. “It will take millions of dollars to reopen. You have to bring back staff. I work with fancy equipment in a big space. I want to continue to cook with the most beautiful and precious ingredients in a creative way, but at the same time, it needs to make sense.” [SNIPPET]