Dallas-area restaurants and workers await advice after Biden’s new COVID vaccine mandates

A day after President Joe Biden ordered new federal vaccine requirements for as many as 100 million Americans, including private sector employees, Dallas-area restaurant owners were still dealing with the news – and wondered how to comply.

The presidential decree requires all employees over 100 workers to be vaccinated or tested for the virus every week.

The Texas Restaurant Association issued a clear statement on Friday, saying it supported “the president’s goal of increasing the number of fully vaccinated Americans to fight the spread of COVID-19,” but added this Reserve :

“At the same time, we need to recognize the burden the new mandate places on an industry that is already seeing its hard-fought recovery reversed due to a severe labor shortage, with food costs rising to the top. their fastest pace in seven years and declining. returned.”

The obligation for large companies to require vaccinations or weekly tests for employees will be enacted by an upcoming rule from the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration that provides for $ 14,000 per violation, according to the Biden administration.

In making his announcement on Thursday, the president expressed his growing frustration with those who refuse to be vaccinated, saying it is not about “freedom or personal choice” but rather “to protect and protect those around you ”.

More than 177 million Americans are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and yet confirmed cases have increased in recent weeks to an average of around 140,000 per day with an average of around 1,000 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

No one disputes the grim statistics, and yet North Texas restaurant groups seemed to be left with far more questions than answers. More than a few had trouble sorting through the fine print.

The largest chains in North Texas employ more than 100 company-level workers, but most have far fewer than that per individual location. So, some have wondered, will the determination be based on the company or the branch?

Friday’s Consensus: No one knows for sure yet. But labor attorney James L. Sullivan, who is co-chair of Cozen O’Connor’s OSHA workplace safety practice, said individual franchisees who employ fewer than 100 employees but are part of a larger system of ‘Franchised businesses are unlikely to be subject to the new rules for private businesses. Individual units are generally considered independent businesses by the Small Business Administration and have been classified that way for the Federal Paycheck Protection Program.

Randy DeWitt, CEO of Front Burner Group Dining, which operates Whiskey Cake, Ida Claire, Sixty Vines, Mexican Sugar and Haywire in North Texas, said he was not sure Biden’s executive order would extend to his business, which is awaiting advice from the National Association of Restaurateurs.

DeWitt’s parent company recently employed “a $ 100 incentive for employees to get vaccinated,” DeWitt said via text message. “A lot of our employees have done it. Obviously, if the mandate affects our business, we will comply.

Under the guise of unanswered questions were also concerns about vaccine exemptions and who would pay for weekly tests. Biden’s executive order can also be challenged in court by employers and possibly states, according to The New York Times.

And on top of all that, there was a plethora of what-if scenarios.

Kirsten Holloway, 33, a 13-year veteran of the local restaurant industry, said she was allergic to aspirin, ibuprofen and other medications, and her doctor advised her not to be vaccinated. She would likely qualify for a medical exemption for any vaccine tenure, according to the CDC.

“I could have a serious medical reaction and go into anaphylactic shock,” Holloway said. “I like to explain this to people, because it’s not just a black and white issue – there are a lot of gray areas.”

Holloway said she quit working on the service side of restaurants in 2020 after contracting COVID-19. The restaurant where she worked “didn’t handle things the way I thought they would. It made me hesitate to return to the industry.

She now works in sales and marketing for a small spirits brand that appears unaffected by the mandates.

“I would eventually like to work for bigger companies,” she said, “but now I don’t know if that would happen”.

The Texas Restaurant Association also called on the Biden administration and Congress to expand tax credit programs, replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, invest in child care for workers, and provide “testing. free and reliable for those who will be affected by the new directive “.

Information from the Associated Press contributed to this report.

About Walter Bartholomew

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