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Restaurant Workers Are in a Race to Get Vaccines

  • April 07, 2021

Many restaurant owners, however, said that they are going their own way with the rules, and customers often lead them there. “There is a lot of shaming that goes on if you open up and you don’t have your tables six feet apart,” said Don Miller, the owner of the County Line, a small chain in Texas and New Mexico.

Moreover, his places continue to require masks and keep them at the hostess station for anyone who “forgets.” Most of his young work force, however, will likely wait a long time for a jab. “I think it is important for them to be vaccinated,” he said. “It hasn’t resonated with them as it hasn’t been available to that age group.”

The restaurant industry has many more Latino immigrant workers than most other businesses, and some fear registration for the vaccine is complicating reopenings. Many workers at Danielle Leoni’s Phoenix restaurant, the Breadfruit and Rum Bar, declined unemployment insurance, and have shied from signing up for a shot. “Before you can even make an appointment you have to put in your name and date of birth and email,” Ms. Leoni said. “Those are questions that are deterrents for people trying to keep a low profile.”

In Charleston, Mr. Shemtov was inspired by accounts of the immunization program in Israel, which was considered successful in part because the government took vaccines to job sites. “If people can’t get appointments, let’s bring them to them.”

Other restaurants are devoting hours to making sure workers know how to sign up, locating leftover shots and networking with their peers. Some offer time off for a shot and the recovery period for side effects.

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