Should Your Restaurant Staff Get Vaccinated?
Nearly a year after the coronavirus pandemic irrevocably changed our lives, the world finally sees the light at the end of the tunnel. The first vaccines were announced last November, and now, even more are being developed, approved, and distributed to the public.
The National Restaurant Association, known colloquially throughout the industry as “the other NRA,” has been campaigning hard to open restaurant employees to priority vaccine appointments since they are frontline workers. The restaurant marketplace is eagerly anticipating the return to normal, but what will that journey look like from a business perspective?
Before Mass Vaccination
Globally and within the microcosm of the U.S., we’re still firmly in this stage. Right now, only very high-risk categories can receive vaccines, so there’s plenty of time before the ball gets rolling. Take this time to reflect on the past year. Think about what lessons you’ve learned about adaptability, communication, transparency, and profit maximization. Take a breath and prepare for the return to normal that’s finally coming. We’re almost through this; that’s something to celebrate.
After Staff Vaccination
The plus side to vaccinating your employees before most everyone else is that business will be slow, so they can take a couple of days off if they need to contend with some of the common side effects. People have reported some swelling and discomfort in the injection site, but it typically goes away after a few days—so if your workers need time before they’re back on their feet, the rest of you can probably get by.
In the meantime, dine-in capacity restrictions will likely remain in place but may ease up to allow more people in at once as immunity becomes more common. President Biden aims to vaccinate 100M Americans in his first 100 days, so although it may feel like forever before you’re on the waitlist, too, there is hope that things will progress as swiftly as anticipated.
According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, we won’t fully recuperate as a nation until we’ve achieved herd immunity, which won’t happen until approximately 70-85% of the population is vaccinated. We’re expected, if all goes as planned, to reach that goal sometime in the fall. This, of course, only holds for the United States; globally, we’re going to take much longer to return to normal, so you may have to contend with international travel restrictions for a while yet.
Eventually, when we’ve accomplished herd immunity, and it’s truly safe to operate at full capacity, the restaurant scene will return to normal—or as normal as the industry ever gets. There are a few ways in which COVID-19 has affected the marketplace permanently, and some trends, like off-premise ordering and contactless technology, are here to stay. Customers are now used to restaurant technology’s ease and conveniences like Self-Service Kiosks and QR code ordering. These trends are also likely to shape 2021 for restaurants.
Vaccinating your staff now gives them plenty of time to prepare for the return of regular traffic that’s slated to come in the autumn, sure to bring typical restaurant busyness with it. Until it’s guaranteed that we can reopen society without significant risk of spreading coronavirus just by going about a regular day, get ready to tackle what comes next, and take a moment to be grateful we’re—finally—almost out of the woods.