Since President Joe Biden’s announcement that companies with more than 100 employees must require their employees to be vaccinated for COVID or test unvaccinated employees weekly, there have been more questions than answers. While the idea of ending the pandemic appeals to restaurateurs, especially after the crushing effects on the industry over the past 18 months, no one seems happy with this new directive.
The questions abound: are the deductibles included in the mandate? Who pays for the weekly tests? Who manages the verification and testing process? Will it help or hurt the labor shortage in the leisure industry? How will the guests react?
Many attempts to elicit comments from restaurateurs ended in silence, but who could blame them? The last thing they need is an angry customer at the hostess booth.
The editors of News from the nation’s restaurants discussed the tenure in a recent podcast, trying to collectively figure out what this means for the industry. Editor-in-chief Sam Oches said it was unfortunate that restaurant chefs were entrusted with this app. “It should be something that (…) people should be galvanized to do it themselves. We shouldn’t expect business owners to be the ones to enforce this, but that’s exactly what it is.
This Saturday the the Wall Street newspaper reports turbulent previous efforts to immunize Americans (and settlers). In 1777, George Washington immunized his troops with variolation – a process in which healthy individuals are exposed under their skin to the pus of patients with the disease.
Those inoculated would usually get a relatively mild case of the often fatal and disfiguring disease, although some would die. Some colonies have banned the procedure because vaccinated patients used to break quarantine after exposure, spreading the disease to others. However, as endemic smallpox epidemics threatened to destroy the Continental Army, Washington mandated smallpox against the will of its troops, and it worked.
Restaurants are certainly looking to end the year with a good holiday season. But, sick employees and nervous diners don’t help the results.
Editor-in-chief at RRNLisa Jenning said on their podcast that most people in the industry are pretty optimistic about the holidays so far, but added, “I think vaccinations are part of it and we’re going to see more of it. requirements for that. ”
When asked directly if vaccines are good for business, Dean Stansel, an economist at the Bridwell Institute for Economic Freedom at SMU Cox, said they are as they are helping end a global pandemic. : “Yes, you could say vaccines are good for business. . However, legally requiring private companies to ensure their workforce is vaccinated or can produce a negative COVID test weekly would place new administrative burdens on them that would be detrimental to their bottom line. ”
Who will be responsible for managing vaccine documentation and verification? Also, who pays for testing for unvaccinated employees?
“The administrative cost of confirming vaccination and weekly negative COVID tests for the unvaccinated would be particularly heavy for small businesses, such as restaurants, as they generally do not have large HR departments capable of handling this activity,” Stansel said. “Additionally, since employees would need time off to get vaccinated and tested, planning would be more complicated, which can be particularly problematic in restaurants.”
Kelsey Erickson Streufert is vice president of government relations and advocacy with the Texas Restaurant Association. She says that while they share President Biden’s goal of increasing the number of fully vaccinated Americans, they are seriously concerned about how the new term will affect restaurants in Texas.
Streufert points out that the restaurant industry has taken the lead in many vaccination efforts and will continue to do so because it is good for public health and for economic recovery.
“At the same time, we need to recognize the burden the new mandate is likely to place on an industry that is already seeing its hard-fought recovery reversed due to severe labor shortages, rising feed costs. at their fastest pace in seven years, and declining revenues, ”Streufert wrote in a statement.
She says this case is only getting worse in that it lands the same month when a tax credit that helps restaurants and other small businesses provide paid time off to employees getting a COVID-19 vaccine is set to expire. .