Wednesday, December 8

Small NYC restaurant owners fear that the requirement for “proof” of vaccination will scare away many customers

The Big Apple becomes the first major American city to require COVID-19 vaccination for all employees and customers to set foot in rshelves, gyms and entertainment venues. Although the City will not enforce the mandate until September 13, Already many owners of these businesses are required to put the rule into practice as of this Monday.

A measure that becomes a new fence for the unvaccinated and aims to promote mass immunization, already represents a great challenge for Small business located in neighborhoods where the injection has not reached, for many reasons, the arm of the majority.

However, already last week, in some businesses in the Roosevelt Avenue Queens’ “put on the menu” vaccination order for the restaurant workforce had not gone through “under the table”.

For example, the Mexican Silvia Montiel, who is in charge of the Coatzingo store in Jackson Heights, dedicated to delicacies from his country, says that the owner of that business, who also runs a restaurant, suggested to all the employees that they have proof of vaccination at hand.

“I personally agree. Right here in queens we suffer a lot from the pandemic. It is time for people to better inform themselves, do not believe in so much nonsense and decide to get vaccinated for the good of all ”, he reacted.

Silvia assures that those like her must attend hundreds of people in a day, and are exposed to so many peopleThey must, in addition to the masks, have the protection that the new drugs provide.

“Now in the remainder of summer, a lot of paletas (Mexican ice cream) are sold. Many people enter the store. And we who are in front, we must be vaccinated and even more if the City provides so many facilities. Hopefully these new mandates will make many people reflect, ”said the immigrant.

Mexican Silvia Montiel agrees that the City press for more people to get vaccinated. (Photo: F. Martínez)

“I do not want to, but there is no option”

But not everyone thinks like this worker. The Colombian María Cabal, 40-year-old who also serves the public in a small cafeteria in the ‘Rooselvet’ confessed that you are “panicking” about getting the injection.

“Obviously you want to keep your job. The time is coming when you have no choice. Our boss already told us that it was easier to put it on, because soon the health inspectors will come and we all lose if they close us. I’ll see. I’ll close my eyes and put it on, ”shared María.

Some neighborhoods in Queens, home to Latin American communities that were hit hardest by the pandemic in the spring of 2020, maintain a rate of over vaccination of the citywide average.

Such is the case of Elmhurst where already 81% of its residents are fully vaccinated and Jackson Heights con 77% of its fully immunized population. In Corona the inoculation has moved more slowly, because according to the figures from the New York City Department of Health (DOHMH) the average closed last week at 59%.

The problem is not the employees

The expectation and fears they are very high under the new City standards, in the owners of a category of commercial entrepreneurship such as restaurants in Queens communities, whose cash registers have “suffered” from the onslaught of the pandemic. And not precisely because of him immunization requirement for employees.

This was stated by the Colombian Eugenio Garcia, who is the manager of the Little Colombia restaurant, one of the largest in that town, which has the challenge of “recovery” after months of closure and restrictions.

“We observe that guaranteeing vaccination and controls in our employees, it’s the simplest. We see the problem when we have to ask clients for proof or vaccination passport at the door. A question opens: Will we win or lose customers?

The restaurant that Eugenio manages, like hundreds of stores on Rooselvet avenue, does not have the option of outside service, so it is committed to serving the largest number of diners in your inner room.

“There are many questions that we are asking ourselves. What happens if a family group comes where everyone is vaccinated and a child is not. They are not going to leave it out. I hope that the people do not seem complicated that of having a vaccination test and keep coming to our premises, “the native of Granada underlined.

As of this Monday the people of 12 years and up they must show proof that they have received at least one dose to enter business.

The City has established that immunization cards issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) including digital applications of vaccination passport.

Mayor Bill De Blasio’s judgment when he announced the measure is that “excluding the unvaccinated from gyms, restaurants and shows will inspire people to get vaccinated.”

Eugenio García: “The issue with the vaccination of employees is easy, the issue is when you demand it from customers”: (Photo: F. Martínez)

Fear: Clients moving away

In the opinion of Jeffrey García, president of the Association of Latino Restaurants and Bars of New York, the new mandate will bring “very sad” consequences to an industry that has suffered from pandemic closures for a year and a half.

“I want to clarify that we are pro-vaccines. But I don’t understand why they have to turn us into policemen and above all why all the regulations always weigh us more heavily behind our backs. That is going to alienate customers. Many will prefer to go to eat in Westchester, Long Island or New Jersey, where there are no such mandates, “he argued.

In the same direction, García highlights that it is reasonable to require the injection of workers, but they assume a radical position by considering as “unfair” that after months of complying with the policies of disinfection, reduced capacity and use of masks, now these businesses are the ones who are part of a policy to incentivize inoculation.

“There are many myths, beliefs and decisions based on religious issues behind those who do not want to be vaccinated, to think that they are going to do it to go alone to a restaurant. Those most affected will be the businesses that are in minority neighborhoods, where the vaccination rate is low ”, reasoned the leader of the restaurant union.

García’s direct reference was on localities of The Bronx and Brooklyn, where precisely, the City has observed that there are postal codes with very low vaccination rate.

New York State Excelsior Pass will be one of the alternatives to check the vaccination status. (Photo: Chris Delmas – AFP)

A separate topic: The Bronx and Brooklyn

In general, two-thirds of adults in New York City are vaccinated, but those who are not, are according to official statistics Black and Hispanic.

According to these same data, 71% and 46% of Asian and white residents, respectively, are fully vaccinated.

Only the 42% of Hispanic New Yorkers are fully vaccinated, and the rate of Black New Yorkers is even lower: 31%.

In the South Bronx and some parts of Brooklyn, the uncertainty with the repercussions that the requirement for vaccination tests will have in the restaurant sector and particularly in small businesses has a different “flavor”.

An owner of a small Latin food restaurant in Williamsburg, and Brooklyn, says he is ready to show the City that his few employees are vaccinated, although he has “many reasons to think” that vaccine control “at the door” will have a devastating effect on your billing.

“We are a 10-table restaurant that has survived for months. Most of our clientele is Jewish and we all know what the opinion of this community is, very respectable by the way, about these pharmaceuticals. I do not think that by stopping eating in a place they will be motivated to inject themselves “, explained the businessman who preferred to keep his name anonymous.

Just Williamsburg exhibits one of the lower immunization levels citywide: 42%

Instead, the owner of this small restaurant said that for his employees the rule had another impact.

“Already the two employees who were not vaccinated said they would do it over the weekend. It is different. Very few would be willing to lose their job, “he said.

In South Bronx neighborhoods, the days to come where entering and enjoying some spaces will require a new “alcabala”, the vaccination rate could define difficult days for commercial activities such as gastronomic ventures. Furthermore, in localities such as Hunts Points y Tremont, with vaccination averages of 29% and 41% respectively.

“When we demanded the mask, there were customers who that’s why they got like the devil. They told us, if you force me to do that, I’ll go. I do not want to imagine now that you have to demand the vaccine. It will be difficult for us, “he commented. Jose Rosario, a Dominican employee from a small restaurant on Hunts Points Avenue.

In numbers: the weight of the pandemic

  • Approximately 1,000 bars and restaurants have closed definitely its doors in the Big Apple since March 2020 due to the economic recession caused by the pandemic.
  • 27,000 bars and restaurants they operated in the Big Apple prior to the pandemic.
  • 198 days between general close of the economy in March and the start of Phase 3 in July meant thousands of dollars in losses for thousands of these businesses, to which They were only allowed to serve their dishes to go.
  • 50% of the total of these establishments until last December ran the risk of permanently closing their doors due to the devastating effects of the pandemic.
  • 88% of these businesses until December they had a month’s rent pending.

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