FOOD FOR THOUGHT
In many places, restaurant workers are returning to floors this week, as stay-at-home orders expire, and businesses are permitted to reopen. The reality is this:
A majority of these workers are returning to limited capacity dining rooms. This increases the likelihood servers will earn less than they did pre-pandemic. They’re also guaranteed to earn less than they did on unemployment.
This groundswell of “support local, small businesses” is great but I don’t feel like there’s enough conversation dedicated to the obvious problem: many small businesses don’t offer health insurance benefits to hourly or salaried staff – and Coronavirus diagnosis and treatment are not free.
So, what we have is a group of workers who will (1) earn less money than before by returning to work, while (2) not having the benefit of health insurance, despite facing an increased health risk, that (3) they won’t be able to afford should they contract the virus.
You might be saying – “Staff is required to wear personal protective equipment – masks and gloves.” That’s great – but it does not protect staff from you. If you enter the restaurant without gloves or a mask, you are a health risk to the restaurant’s personnel. You directly interact with smallwares – whether reusable or single-use, disposable. Your saliva and touch are everywhere on the plates, silverware, cups/glasses.
Furthermore, the gloves will only be effective if they’re changed after each interaction. This would mean a server would need to change gloves between table interactions, trips in and out of the kitchen or expediting area. Their gloves would need to change after handling any smallwares – reusable or single-use. Additionally, the over-reliance on gloves may lead to an overconfidence related to preventing the virus, and I would suggest will equate to a decline in hand-washing and safe sanitation.
I understand – you’re tired of being home. You want desperately to have your hair cut, your roots done, and to go out with friends and family to eat or drink. The reality is, the health risk you pose, as cases continue being reported in record rates, is not worth it. And let’s be honest: Restaurants operating at 25% capacity probably aren’t covering their operating expenses.
Ask yourself – is it worth it, or could you wait this out a few more weeks?
FOR ADDITIONAL CONSIDERATION: Restaurants opening to 25% capacity also won’t be staffing to maximum capacity. They may rotate their staff, or they may rely entirely on a few employees. This would mean a handful of servers, cooks, and dishwashers accept the majority of the health risk OR this means 20 people come off of unemployment and are rotated to have 1-2 shifts per week. So I’ll ask again: is it worth it? The short answer is NO. We could all be a little more patient for a little while longer.