Many restaurants have been battling the same staffing shortages as other industries amid the pandemic. Companies already operating on shortened staffs have been drastically impacted by breakthrough COVID-19 cases.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently revised quarantine orders for those who test positive for COVID-19, saying those who wear masks can end isolation five days after testing positive. Previously, guidelines suggested people quarantine for seven-to-10 days.
The new guidelines have been applauded largely by the restaurant industry as they could help smaller businesses rebound from staffing shortages.
Some companies, like Barolo Grill in Denver, operate with only 30 employees. So, when one or two people are unable to come to work for an extended period of time their duties are left for an already-thin staff to cover.
Barolo, a popular destination for wine enthusiast, is owned by Ryan Fletter. He started working at the restaurant in the 1990s and built his way up the chain of command to ownership. He said the pandemic has brought many challenges, and the staffing shortages can be better addressed with the new CDC guidelines.
“It is time to adjust some of our protocols,” Fletter said. “In a crazy world where things don’t make sense, it made sense.”
Fletter said his staff has voluntarily chosen to be fully vaccinated. They also continue to wear masks at work even when mandates are not in effect.
Fletter told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas he was optimistic the new guidelines would help alleviate strains left on companies.
“The (omicron) variant is less severe, it is a much shorter window. We also all have vaccines in us now,” Fletter said.
With a small staff, restaurants like Barolo need each employee working every night. Sometimes Fletter is left to step in and work various roles himself just to make sure customer satisfaction remains high.
“It challenges us hugely if we are without a dishwasher,” Fletter said. “Some nights I am serving food or I am pulling corks or busting tables. My job is to do whatever it takes to help everybody out.”
With sanitizing stations, masks, vaccines and more, Fletter said he believed the shorter quarantine period paired well with his operation.
“If somebody is sick regardless, they will stay away. If they are not sick, then they should be able to wear the PPE, masks, test negative all that to be able to come back and enter into the work environment,” Fletter said.
A spokesperson for the Colorado Restaurant Association told CBS4 they believed the new guidelines from the CDC would help the industry rebound from the ongoing staffing shortage.