WASHINGTON, May 21: The Indian-American CEO of a leading restaurant chain in the US has supported President Donald Trump's move to open the American economy in a phased manner amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, saying that it is the "right thing to do".
The US has started opening up after two months of lockdown amid the raging coronavirus pandemic. The US is the worst-hit country with over 1,528,565 COVID-19 cases and more than 91,900 deaths due to the disease.
"I believe that the health crisis is now becoming a financial crisis with 36 million Americans unemployed, and a humanitarian crisis as well, with about 54 million Americans fighting hunger," Niren Chaudhary, president and CEO of Panera Bread, said during a White House roundtable with restaurant executives and industry leaders attended by President Trump.
"And therefore, I think opening up the economy right now in a phased manner is the right thing to do," the Indian-American CEO told Trump.
The deadly coronavirus pandemic is having a devastating toll on the American economy.
The restaurant industry is one of the worst affected with millions of Americans being laid off or furloughed in the last two-three months.
During the roundtable, Trump noted that the restaurant industry has been "tremendously impacted" by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"It's an industry that we're working very hard with and on. We're looking at doing deductibility so that a corporation can use a restaurant or entertainment clubs, et cetera, and get deductibility. I think that'll really have a big impact," he said.
Trump told the restaurant executives that his government's 'Paycheck Protection Programme' has delivered over USD 30 billion in aid to the restaurant industry. Under the programme, relief via potentially forgivable loans are being provided to businesses hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the past few weeks, Trump has emphasised on a safe and gradual reopening of the US economy.
Most of the 50 US states have announced their plans to reopen the businesses amidst the growing number of the coronavirus cases and deaths.
Panera Bread runs a chain of over 2,000 bakery-cafes in the US and Canada.
An alumnus of St Stephen's College in Delhi and MBA in marketing from the Delhi University, Chaudhary is frequently invited by the White House to share his views on the revival of the economy during the coronavirus pandemic.
As part of its community service, the company is providing 50,000 meals to doctors and nurses in New York and children in the state of Ohio in collaboration with the US Agricultural Department.
The company has also launched a programme called 'Together Without Hunger with Feeding America', which aims at serving half a million meals to children and families. - PTI