Out in San Diego, bartender Seth Dominique started an on-line petition urging that the city’s restaurants and bars be closed over the 4th of July holiday weekend owing to COVID-19 concerns. The petition garnered over 1,000 signatures, but Dominique said he wasn’t really expecting a reply from city government.

Rather, his aim was to give food and drink industry workers a voice.

“I want to make good money, but there’s just that underlying fear in the back of my head,” said Dominique, who added that he is no longer collecting unemployment. Overall, Dominique said the main goal of the petition is to voice the concerns of San Diego industry workers.
“We don’t have much of a say these days,” said Dominique. “The owners are represented. When Gavin Newsom gets up there and talks about the owners of these businesses – and we appreciate that – but what about the guys and girls that are in the thick of it? The guys and girls that are in there serving people, greeting people, talking to them, having to enforce these rules. We’re the ones being put on the spot and we’re the ones that have to suffer the consequences.”

Bars, breweries and wineries in San Diego without food service actually were ordered shut again earlier in the week just 17 days after reopening. The San Diego Union-Tribune quotes bar owner Rachel Dymond: “We finally reopened. I cannot believe this is happening again. It’s just unreal to me. Why bars? There are thousands of protesters and they’re blaming bars.”

(As an aside, according to medical professionals America’s mass protests don’t seem to have led to COVID spikes, perhaps owing to widespread mask usage and people protesting in the open air.) 

In recent years the general public has become far more aware of issues pertaining to the restaurant and bar industry’s labor force, with topics of discussion including working conditions, the variability of insurance, mental health, rates of pay and substance abuse, to name only a few. 

COVID-19 has added still more concerns to the list, some obvious (access to unemployment benefits during lockdown, for instance) and others new and unique, as with restaurant employees now being asked to serve as the de facto enforcement arm of face mask policies. 

All of which serves as prelude to today’s reading: “How Do Servers Feel About Restaurants Reopening? Terrified, Mostly,” by Lauren Mowry at Wine Enthusiast.

… Welcome to restaurant service during the novel coronavirus pandemic. As governors encourage businesses to reopen, restaurateurs and staff are trying to find a common ground between financial solvency and personal safety.
Mandates for servers and diners to wear masks varies by city and state. To add to the confusion, masks have become politicized for some Americans, despite Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advisories that cloth face coverings help prevent the spread of Covid-19.Hospitality workers are caught in the crosshairs of a health crisis masquerading as partisanship. The lack of consistent guidelines between national and local authorities heightens concerns and complicates operations for those in kitchens and dining rooms.

In closing, please note that Marty Rosen (Food & Dining Magazine’s editor-in-chief) made face masks the topic of his weekly Wednesday column of July 1 … and our cover photo credit is The Irish Rover.

Letter from the Editor: Face masks, yes. We have a collective responsibility to hold each other safe