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Vaccination Wars, Loss Of Business Mark Delta Variant's Worsening Impact


The delta variant continues to wreak havoc on restaurants in ways that appear to be growing in both scope and severity.

As coronavirus cases have risen sharply in many parts of the country, major employers with downtown offices have pulled back on plans to invite workers back to the office after Labor Day. That has crushed hopes that many small-business owners in urban cores had held that September would provide an infusion of revenue to beat back mounting bills and debt, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Restaurants of all kinds across the country have been grappling with the way that the question of vaccination has divided people along political lines, The Guardian reports. In cities like Philadelphia, a return to indoor mask mandates has come with an option to instead require proof of vaccination. In other areas where jurisdictions have been banned from requiring masks or vaccination proof, restaurants wishing to protect their workers have been met with intense blowback and even harassment.

Reservation app OpenTable rolled out a feature on Aug. 23 for participating restaurants in which diners can use a service called Clear to provide digital proof of vaccination in an attempt to ease the burden on individual employees, but that does little to prevent those opposed to vaccines from taking to sites like Yelp to voice their displeasure. Negative reviews on such sites have direct impacts on businesses' bottom lines.

The delta variant has already begun to severely affect restaurants' ability to pay their rent. Over 45% of restaurant owners reported struggling to pay rent between July 25 and Aug. 25 in a survey from small business consulting site Alignable, up from 40% from the previous 30-day period. In the same survey, 88% of restaurant owners reported being afraid that the delta variant would hurt their recoveries.