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Spirits Industry Update - August 9th

Posted by Evan Prish on

Spotlight:  No vax?  Go eat somewhere else.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect businesses and everyday life, a growing number of bars and restaurants around the country are issuing mandates requiring not only staff to be vaccinated but dine-in customers to be vaccinated as well.

The most high-profile example so far has been Union Square Hospitality Group - lead by renowned restauranteur, Danny Meyer.

Starting September 7th, USHG will require all employees and customers to show proof of vaccination to work and dine in the group’s restaurants.  In an interview with CNN, Meyer stated “If you really want to go unvaccinated, you can dine somewhere else, and also work somewhere else.” 

This announcement came just days before Mayor Bill De Blasio of New York City stated that starting September 13th customers of NYC restaurants, bars, movie theaters and gyms will be required to show proof of vaccination or be turned away.

Since De Blasio’s announcement, Mayor Muriel Bowser of Washington D.C. has stated she is considering similar requirements for her city – a handful of restaurants in D.C. have already said they plan on requiring customers show proof of vaccination.

The latest surge in COVID-19 cases threatens the industry that has finally started to make a comeback.  However, even as bars and restaurants become busy again establishments have struggled immensely with finding workers, with many remaining critically understaffed.  Former restaurant employees, many of whom were laid off or furloughed, have cited low pay, lack of benefits and safety/health concerns as reasons for looking for work elsewhere. 

One of the goals with requiring proof of vaccination is that it will incentivize workers to return to restaurant jobs.  Some establishments have even begun to raise wages and offer bonuses to help lure employees back.

Coupled with rising food prices and more lockdowns potentially on the horizon, there remains much uncertainty for the restaurant and bar industry.

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