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Waffle House Signals U.S. Reopening, But It Won’t Be Simple

Luring customers out of their homes and into a public setting will be difficult as long as the coronavirus remains a threat.

Waffle House Signals U.S. Reopening, But It Won’t Be Simple

Luring customers out of their homes and into a public setting will be difficult as long as the coronavirus remains a threat.

Booths are taped off to ensure social distancing at a Waffle House restaurant in Brookhaven, Georgia, on April 27.

Booths are taped off to ensure social distancing at a Waffle House restaurant in Brookhaven, Georgia, on April 27.

Photographer: Nicole Craine/Bloomberg
Booths are taped off to ensure social distancing at a Waffle House restaurant in Brookhaven, Georgia, on April 27.
Photographer: Nicole Craine/Bloomberg

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The Waffle House chain of U.S. restaurants, with most of its locations in the nation’s south, is famous for staying open during hurricanes and other severe weather. Now it’s facing what could be a tougher challenge: luring customers who are wary of spending time there because of the coronavirus.

It’s all happening in Georgia, whose Republican governor made waves with his decision to let many businesses and restaurants reopen sooner than most people expected—and earlier than medical experts consider advisable.

Stephanie Flanders talks with Atlanta-based Bloomberg reporter Michael Sasso about the situation on the ground. We’ll hear excerpts from his interview with a Waffle House spokeswoman, too.

Flanders also speaks with returning guest Richard Baldwin, an economist at the Graduate Institute in Geneva and co-editor of a new eBook addressing Covid-19 and trade policy. Baldwin discusses how trade restrictions are exacerbating the damage done by the pandemic—such as making it more difficult to get masks.