Restaurants Expanding their Services during COVID
Tinsae Shifreaw, Staff Writer
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, restaurants have been closed to in-person dining since March 2020. Now with Thurston County opening back up, restaurants are following suit with in-person dining at a limited capacity. Governor Jay Inslee has allowed restaurants to prepare for the influx of customers ready to dine in. In addition to the state now moving into Phase Three of the Healthy Washington Plan, which started on March 22, restaurants are now able to hold guests at 50 percent capacity. At this time, restaurants in Thurston County are open-minded about opening to 50 percent capacity; however, they are not as enthusiastic. These feelings could be due to the hard year that the restaurant and hospitality businesses had to go through.
The hospitality industry had to shut down and reopen on multiple occasions due to random spikes of COVID-19 cases from March 2020 up until present day. At this time, with COVID-19 cases lowering in Thurston County, businesses can have less extensive restrictions. Many restaurant owners were over the moon when they found out that they could finally open, yet they believe that the path leading up to this point was damaging, with a great deal of closures and openings that set businesses backwards. Many of the employees who worked in the hospitality industry lost their jobs due to the virus. Their employer could no longer afford the employees that they hired. 1,700 local employees in the restaurant industry were let go from their jobs within this past year because businesses were unable to continue payroll due to sudden closures.
Restaurant owners are just waiting for Governor Jay Inslee to completely open restaurants, this will allow them to re-establish a pattern for regular customers, as well as begin making a steady profit. The current difficulty that restaurants with a higher capacity change are facing is trying to hire new workers. The potential employees planning to work in a restaurant are concerned that they may get COVID-19.
Along with Thurston County opening to Phase Three, we still have to be careful and mask up to avoid going back to Phase Two. With restaurants opening up, and more people going outside, there are higher chances of spikes in Thurston County. Phase Four will take a lot longer than Phase Three, which took three months, to be achieved.