Philadelphia restaurant industry grapples with vaccine mandate

Philly’s hotel and restaurant industries are easing into the new vaccination mandate.

Driving the news: The city began requiring proof of vaccinations for patrons visiting bars, sports venues and most establishments that sell food and drink on-site Monday.

  • The mandate takes effect as Philadelphia grapples with a surge of COVID-19, primarily due to the Omicron variant. Since Tuesday, the city has nearly 40% positivity rate.

Rollback: Just before the holidays, a few establishments temporarily closed due to epidemics or potential exposures.

  • hook and master indoor dining room closed and only doing take-out orders until January 9th.
  • Khyber pass pub closed two weeks ago but has since reopened.
  • Harper’s Garden had to reduce its dining hours last week due to COVID-related staffing issues.

What they say : “It’s the floor, not the ceiling,” said Avram Hornik, owner of several businesses, including Morgan’s Pier, Harper’s Garden and Cherry Street Wharfsaid about the mandate.

  • Hornik said he wants to keep his staff and customers safe. He acknowledged business had been slower this week but said it would be unfair to blame the mandate as there are so many other factors.

Renée Maffiore, manager at Dairysaid fewer guests are coming since the mandate took effect, but those who come tend to be repeat customers.

  • She also said it was too early to tell if it would come as a financial blow.
  • “Our staff are happy about it and feel safer to come to work,” she said.

Meanwhilemany members of the Philadelphia West Corridor Collaborativewhich are mostly small businesses, are unhappy with the decision to introduce more restrictions without additional help, said group chairman Jabari Jones.

  • “Legislators need to be more creative in how they provide relief to companies concerned about their livelihoods,” Jones said.
  • Jones is also concerned that guests will be pressured to travel to other locations outside of the city that have less stringent requirements, especially venues that rely on large group events.

Ben Fileccia, Director of Operations and Strategy at Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Associationsaid he heard anecdotally from restaurant members that requiring proof of vaccination does not deter businesses.

  • But, he also mentioned that it’s “troublesome” that hotels, casinos and event catering companies lost a lot of scheduled parties because customers feared they wouldn’t be able to hold events within the mandate.

To note : No complaint had been filed via the 311 line on Tuesday.

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