Local restaurant owners and operators are trying to figure out how they're going to deal with the President Biden's recently announced vaccine mandate.
Owners and operators are grappling with the policy amid one of the most challenging hiring environments in decades. On the one hand, the restaurants want to promote public health, which will lead to economic recovery. However, Jonathan Horowitz, with Convive Hospitality, says there’s a downside.
“We also know on the flip side that any additional regulations, any additional burdens that are placed on the industry is just going to make it tougher and tougher for the industry to recover,” Horowitz said.
Horowitz says the mandate has left the industry with more questions than answers.
“We don’t know if that involves paid time off, or how they consider restaurant locations. Because right now it’s only businesses with more than a hundred employees,” Horowitz explained. “If you’re franchisees, how does that work? So, there’s a lot of unknowns right now.”
He says until those questions are answered, it's going to be tough to know how the mandate will impact the paying customer. The Texas Restaurant Association voiced similar concerns in a statement to KTRH:
The Texas Restaurant Association shares President Biden’s goal of increasing the number of Americans who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, but we have serious concerns about how the new mandate will impact Texas restaurants.
The restaurant industry has led in the vaccination effort by hosting vaccine drives, providing incentives and paid time-off to employees who obtain the vaccine, and even offering discounts to vaccinated customers. We will continue to lead in this way because it’s good for public health and for our economic recovery.
At the same time, we must acknowledge the burden the new mandate will likely place on an industry that is already seeing its hard-fought recovery reverse because of a critical labor shortage, food costs that are rising at their fastest rate in seven years, and declining revenue. To make matters worse, this announcement comes during the same month when a tax credit that helps restaurants and other small businesses provide paid leave to employees obtaining a COVID-19 vaccine is currently set to expire.
We call upon the Administration and Congress to help restaurants as they continue to carry these burdens by, for example, extending critical tax credit programs; replenishing the Restaurant Revitalization Fund that left over 12,000 eligible small and independent restaurants in Texas without relief; investing in child care and other supports we need to help Americans return to work; and providing free, reliable tests for those who will be impacted by the new directive. Texas restaurants remain committed to safety and to helping our communities obtain the COVID-19 vaccine, but they need support rather than unfunded mandates to meet the challenges of this stage in the pandemic.
We will continue to work with our colleagues at the National Restaurant Association to urge the Administration to incorporate restaurant feedback in the emergency temporary standard that is being developed to implement President Biden’s directive. And we will continue to share best practices and resources with restaurants who are doing their best to support the vaccination effort and keep their business afloat.