• Alexis Kwan

Should AZ Restaurants Stay Open for Dine-In While COVID19 Cases Rise?

Following Monday’s announcement to close bars, gyms, waterparks, and movie theaters, lots of Arizonians have something to say about what the right thing to do is for our community. Many voices on social media have expressed relief at the mandate while others find that the measures are not enough.

Yesterday I posed two questions to my peers: What do you think about the new AZ mandate and should restaurants close again? With about 19% of viewers responding, I had an opportunity to start a conversation online with voices from many different perspectives. I wasn’t surprised that “too little, too late” attitude was a common theme.

Closing restaurants is the best next step to flatten the curve of coronavirus cases in Arizona. I was shocked at the number of people telling stories of restaurant industry workers testing positive for the virus. Despite so many precautionary measures being taken by our Phoenix restaurants to ensure health and wellness, the virus is still spreading between staff members. Many restaurant owners have taken proactive responsibility for this: the coffee shop Colado’s temporarily closing and paying for all of their employees to be tested. Others have stayed silent on their social media about updates on the spread of the virus, some allowing and even pressuring employees to work if they feel sick. Currently, it is impossible to know how many COVID cases restaurants actually have.

I have yet to hear about a Phoenix restaurant that is doing well since the reopening. I’ve heard tales of the virus, lack of business, overworked staff, and food quality that is subpar due to budget cuts. People will argue, “How many small businesses need to close before it’s enough?” and to that, I would say this: People are dying. Small businesses are suffering from being open at a lower capacity yet there is an insufficient policy in Arizona to help restaurants do the right thing. They are not making as much money as they were before the virus and restaurants operate on a business model that depends on the day to day profit. Imagine their original profit being cut in half with the same overhead expenses. Now their staff is sick and potentially spreading the virus to their guests. Owners are making tough decisions right now with little guidance from our state government.

Without a mandate to close restaurants, restaurants will remain open in hopes of profit and at the risk of their staff and guests. Their employees can’t afford to stay home without the help of unemployment and the promise of their job remaining when they get back.

I believe that knowing the politics behind the Phoenix food industry can enhance your foodie experience. I’ll resume more restaurant recommendations next week.

Read more about how health and safety are enforced in restaurants here.

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