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Mon Mar 1, 2021, 10:03 PM

Restaurant Workers Should Be Prioritized for the Vaccine. Why Aren't We?

I was getting ready to set up Pinch Chinese for our usual delivery and take-out service in early February when Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that indoor dining was coming back to New York City. As the sommelier at the restaurant, I felt a bit of relief, thinking this might allow Pinch to survive past the spring, but at the same time I was filled with dread. At this point, restaurant workers like me were ineligible for the vaccine and therefore at risk of being infected with COVID-19. Cuomo’s decision prompted an outcry from industry coalitions like Restaurant Workers Community Foundation, food journalists, and everyone in between. Astoundingly, and perhaps due to backlash, the governor quickly expanded the Phase 1b group to include restaurant workers but passed the buck of doling out these vaccines to “local municipalities if they think it works within their prioritization locally,” a vaguely worded addition I understood as restaurant workers were permitted to receive the vaccine—only if there was enough left over.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve been ostensibly classified as “essential.” But it’s become clearer to me that restaurant workers are considered a different kind of “essential”: laborers who do what others don’t want to do, not just making food and taking care of customers, but catering to their wants, not their needs. That’s not all we do.

In the most Platonic ideal, restaurants serve communities. We encourage our neighbors to get to know each other. We provide business to a myriad of vendors and strengthen ties within the local economy. We celebrate all the happy occasions with our guests and commiserate with them when things are bleak. (Unfortunately, in trying to make everything look and feel good, the industry has perpetuated white supremacy by ignoring rampant problems of abuse, sexual harassment, racism, and xenophobia.) In the COVID era, every one of those acts of service is diminished, and that hospitality cannot be translated into something that is packaged and delivered. But even before the pandemic, restaurant work has been considered a transition job, something to make money while the career of our dreams sorts itself out.

As restaurant employees, we’ve felt like afterthoughts. Cuomo is not the first to pass the buck. Instead of restaurant owners paying workers wages that can keep up with the cost of living, they are happy to foist that responsibility onto the customers under the guise of tipping and delivery fees. Instead of the government providing crucial legal aid and financial assistance to independent restaurants during the pandemic, their lack of action allows the free market to dictate who gets to survive at the whims of landlords and those who have all the resources, thanks to late-stage capitalism. Instead of a public that prioritizes the health and safety of others and values the efforts of its essential workers, American consumers have given into convenience and comfort at their expense. In every instance, restaurant workers have had to bear the brunt of these policy changes and customer entitlements and re-re-opening announcements by ourselves, constantly weighing the importance of our individual and collective economic solvency over the potential risk of contracting and spreading the virus.

https://www.bonappetit.com/story/why-arent-restaurant-workers-prioritized-for-covid-19-vaccine ay

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Reply Restaurant Workers Should Be Prioritized for the Vaccine. Why Aren't We? (Original post)
Yo_Mama_Been_Loggin Mar 1 OP
TwilightZone Mar 1 #1
KPN Mar 2 #4
uppityperson Mar 1 #2
AZSkiffyGeek Mar 1 #3
KPN Mar 2 #5

Response to Yo_Mama_Been_Loggin (Original post)

Mon Mar 1, 2021, 10:20 PM

1. They're in 1C, which is "other essential workers"

https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/categories-essential-workers.html

https://www.cnbc.com/2021/01/25/restaurants-seem-unlikely-to-require-workers-to-receive-covid-vaccine-.html

I suppose it could be argued that they should be in 1B, but they are being prioritized ahead of others. They were never going to be in 1A, because they're not healthcare workers.

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Response to TwilightZone (Reply #1)

Tue Mar 2, 2021, 12:29 PM

4. 1C is actually pretty low in the list of priorities.

There are a lot of “Groups” in 1B before them.

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Response to Yo_Mama_Been_Loggin (Original post)

Mon Mar 1, 2021, 10:22 PM

2. Grocery store workers also

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Response to Yo_Mama_Been_Loggin (Original post)

Mon Mar 1, 2021, 10:33 PM

3. They're lower 1B in Arizona

Of course Arizona just abandoned those standards and is basing it all off age - which will likely throw a lot of grocery and restaurant workers WAY down the list.

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Response to Yo_Mama_Been_Loggin (Original post)

Tue Mar 2, 2021, 12:34 PM

5. I agree. A lot of Americans make their living

in restaurants. The restaurant business is a huge component of our overall economy. A lot of lives affected by it — directly and indirectly.

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