There are no safe options for restaurants during the pandemic – The Lumberjack
by Ian Vargas
Although there was only a lockdown for a short time in 2020, many restaurants were not open to sit inside. Companies usually ended up abandoning employees they didn’t need. They have also had to adjust to significantly lower incomes and many have closed as a result.
It’s obviously bad for the restaurant and the people who were laid off, but the alternative is that employees and customers would have died of COVID-19.
With the advent of the vaccine, most of that has changed; most restaurants are open both indoors and outdoors. They frequently insist on social distancing and wearing a mask when entering, but people are rarely seen sitting very far apart. Restoration options at Cal Poly Humboldt have followed the same trajectory. As soon as people were able to get vaccinated, everything went back to almost normal.
Like many students, I am very poor. When I arrived in Humboldt and started looking for work, I did the same and went to one of the nearby restaurants. This was when everything was still take out only. Companies were losing employees like crazy, so getting into something wasn’t too difficult.
Working anywhere that has a lot of people walking in and out seems risky, but luckily I didn’t usually have to see customers. I could at least remain isolated most of the time, apart from my colleagues. Once people were able to get their shots and everyone started to reopen to sit inside, that changed.
Now that I am in close contact with unmasked and questionably vaccinated clients, my job seems very dangerous to me. Vaccines have given people inadvisable confidence in their safety. Vaccinated people can still get sick very easily, and even if you don’t get sick, there is a risk of spreading the disease with asymptomatic infection.
Restaurants are particularly dangerous in this regard because there is no way to eat and keep your mask on. Food that goes down doesn’t push germs back into your lungs. Going in with a mask on just to take it off as soon as you sit down doesn’t seem like an effective way to limit the spread of airborne disease.
I don’t think restaurants are doing anything wrong, everyone has to get paid one way or another after all. I rather think they are in a position where there are no good options for an answer. The initial 2020 lockdown should have been longer and more consistent, and everyone should have received monthly stimulus checks.
Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, which puts people in the unfortunate position of risking any new strains. At some point one of them is going to start making people a lot sicker than before and there’s no way we can deal with it. More places will close permanently and more people will lose their jobs or their health.