Opinion: Restaurant Workers Perspective on COVID


Restaurants were some of the first businesses to close when the pandemic started. Now with more and more restrictions lifted, some are becoming superspreaders. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.)

As the United States as a whole is seeing Coronavirus cases skyrocketing, it seems as though it’s citizens don’t care.

I work at a restaurant in the Brier Creek area, and I’ve witnessed a total disregard towards Coronavirus from customers and sometimes even from management.

Coronavirus has disproportionately affected the United States compared to other developed nations in terms of cases as well as deaths. While it’s easy to blame this on poor leadership, we cannot ignore the disregard of rules from our country’s citizens.

I greet multiple maskless patrons who come in to eat every time I work. We have a sign on the door that says it’s required to wear a mask, and the Governor has imposed a statewide mask mandate, but people still choose not to wear one.

I feel like management is also part of the problem as well. My manager has told me not to confront individuals who come in without a mask because they don’t want me getting into altercations with customers, but I have no problem telling people to follow the rules or get out. I understand where my manager is coming from, but I’d rather reduce the risk of contracting COVID than hold my tongue.

Not all customers are reckless when it comes to reducing the spread of COVID– some are the complete opposite. Some patrons come in and make sure that we spread our tables out enough and complain to the managers if they see other customers not wearing masks. I get that my managers are trying to play to both sides, but we can’t operate like that when we’re seeing one of the largest spikes in Coronavirus cases since March. I personally would rather please the people who take the virus seriously over those who don’t.

However, not everyone agrees whether or not management is irresponsible. “I think that [the managers] are trying to make the best they can out of this situation,” said Noami Gupton, a server at a North Raleigh restaurant, via a phone interview.

She acknowledges that the company is attempting to reduce the spread of COVID, but Gupton doesn’t believe that everyone is doing their part. “I believe that [the restaurant] has taken the appropriate steps; however, I’m not sure how well they are following up with employees to ensure those steps are followed,” said Gupton.

While Gupton trusts that her work is taking action against Coronavirus spread, some other restaurant workers don’t think the same.

“There were days when my whole section would be filled because they wouldn’t stop seating people, they were more worried about making money than people leaving due to the wait,” said Adam Reed*, a server at a Brier Creek area restaurant, via a phone interview.

Reed* also disclosed that the managers do not always properly wear their masks and don’t properly social distance the tables.

Despite this, Reed* says that their work has taken some steps to stop the spread such as putting up plastic barriers. “You can tell that they’re putting some effort into it, but it all feels like it doesn’t matter since they don’t force people to wear masks, we have people walking in without a mask on and still get sat,” said Reed*.

This is such a key point. I don’t feel safe at work when I have party after party come in without any mask in sight. The loss of maskless customers does not outweigh the risk of spreading or catching COVID. At this point, I wouldn’t be unhappy if we went into another lockdown or shutdown. It’s honestly what we need and deserve, if such a large chunk of the population refuses to take this pandemic seriously then we should close things down again. I’m not the only one who thinks this either.

“I think that the first [shutdown] should have lasted a lot longer than what it did and maybe we wouldn’t still be in this predicament. I feel as though we are well overdue for another shutdown, cases are rising, people are still getting sick, and dying,” said Gupton.

Some believe we should scale things back before shutting down completely again. “I think going back to phase one or two would be best. In my opinion, locking down again is a bad idea because people are going to protest it like they did last time. I think if we went back into phase one it would help slow the spread, and it wouldn’t upset everyone,” said Reed*.

I also understand this sentiment and feel as though going back into phase one or two would be a healthy medium.

Both the Governor and President-Elect need to do some serious thinking over the next few days because nothing is getting better. Our COVID numbers are staggering and thousands of people are still dying from the virus. Whether we go back into a lockdown or revert to phase one, I just hope that our leaders choose to do something.

We cannot keep going like we are. We aren’t going to be able to simply toughen this pandemic out, that’s not how this works. Our society is struggling, and I just wish that our elected officials ignore the ones who ignore science and simply work to keep us all alive.

*Name changes have been made to protect worker’s identities.


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