This week they learned restaurant workers will now be included in phase 1B.3 along with other essential workers, like those in grocery stores. They will be eligible after teachers and those 65 years and up are vaccinated.
Since the start of the pandemic Colorado restaurants have lost $3 billion according to the Colorado Restaurant Association. As soon as the state released its plans for vaccine distribution, they have been lobbying to get industry workers a place in line sooner rather than later.
“We sent more than a month ago a letter to their office, and I had been checking in with them weekly,” CRA President Sonia Riggs said.
For business owners who have been trying to navigate ever-changing COVID-19 restrictions, it’s welcome news.
Paula Vrakas owns Roxy on Broadway, a bar restaurant and music venue, which in November was making a last attempt at staying open.
“I laid off over half my staff,” she said.
Shortly thereafter, she decided to temporarily shut its doors, and for months the staff has been gone and utilities turned off to save money.
General Manager Cody Wade says it was their only way of ensuring a future at all.
“It just didn’t make sense to be limited to a small outdoor patio in the middle of winter,” he said.
Wade says hearing restaurant workers now have a clear place in line to be vaccinated is exactly what they need as they make plans to reopen on Feb. 11.
“Having them all be able to be vaccinated at this point, it’s just another level of comfort security, and I really hope it means the general public will have more confidence in coming back,” he said.
Riggs says representing an industry that makes up 10% of the state’s workforce, and considering their unique interaction with the public, they questioned why they weren’t included with other essential workers to begin with.
“The other thing I think that is important to remember here is that restaurant workers are serving food to people who have to remove their masks to eat and drink. You are not seeing that in some of those other frontline situations,” Riggs said.
Wade sees it as one step in the right direction, something they haven’t seen in a while.
“It’s a bit of sunshine in this big storm we have had lately,” he said.