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Photo: James D. Morgan/Getty Images

Restaurants are slowly being allowed to reopen — with restrictions. In Australia, for instance, dining rooms can serve no more than 10 patrons at a time, and each customer needs at least 43 square feet of space.

That's resulted in Frank Angeletta, the owner of Five Dock Dining, putting cardboard cutouts of diners at tables that would otherwise be disconcertingly empty.

  • The Inn at Little Washington, an ultra-high-end Virginia restaurant, is doing something very similar.

The big picture: Restaurant economics have been upended, and many restaurants will never reopen. Those that do will be changed radically.

  • Space per diner will increase — and customers will be newly hyper-attuned to things like ventilation and ceiling height. Restaurants lucky enough to be able to offer outdoor seating will have a huge advantage.
  • Menus will become more limited, as kitchens become less crowded. Expect much more emphasis on daily specials.
  • Take-out and delivery will become central to the business, to the point at which dishes will only appear on the menu if they lend themselves to at-home dining.
  • Reservations will become scarcer than they used to be, and companies like Tock will allow restaurants to monetize them by selling different time slots at different prices.
  • Landlords will often be the deciding factor in terms of which restaurants survive and which do not. Momofuku founder David Chang is closing two locations that won't reduce rents, saying: "I understand their decisions. I don't respect their decisions."

The bottom line: Restaurants have been driving urban revitalization for the past 20 years. Now they might be at the forefront of urban decline. Their suburban counterparts, by contrast, are probably in much better shape.

Go deeper: Restaurants gingerly test how to return amid coronavirus

Go deeper

Updated 12 hours ago - Sports

The potential GOAT of chess faces intriguing challenger

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The World Chess Championship between Norway's Magnus Carlsen and Russia's Ian Nepomniachtchi began on Friday, 1,094 days after Carlsen won his fourth consecutive title.

Why it matters: During the long, COVID-fueled layoff, chess entered a new era, and with the championship finally here, the age-old game is ready for its close-up.

Department of Interior proposes raising cost of drilling on public lands

A horizontal drilling rig and a pump jack sit on federal land in Lea County, New Mexico. Photo: Callaghan O'Hare/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Oil and gas companies should pay more to drill on federal lands and waters, the Department of the Interior argued in a report released Friday, saying that the current rates were "outdated."

Driving the news: The Department of Interior report said that the federal government's oil and gas leasing and permitting program "fails to provide a fair return to taxpayers, even before factoring in the resulting climate-related costs that must be borne by taxpayers."

14 hours ago - Health

U.S. to restrict air travel from 8 countries over new COVID variant concerns

A COVID-19 vaccine is administered. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The U.S. will impose new air travel restrictions in response to the Omicron variant, a new COVID strain first detected in South Africa, President Biden announced Friday.

The big picture: Air travel from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi will be restricted starting on Monday.

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