Arkansas – It looks like we are at the start of a new, winter Covid-19 wave since the number of cases is on the rise recently in Arkansas and the first Omicron variant was officially confirmed on Friday.
New wave potentially means new measures and struggles for local businesses especially for those types of businesses that were hit the most since the start of the pandemic, the restaurants. As we enter the holiday season, a new wave at the beginning of the new year might result with closures and many Arkansas restaurants are understandably worried about their future.
“It has been a rollercoaster for two years,” said Zac David, general manager at the Faded Rose.
But the Covid-19 is not the only problem for restaurants. For months now, restaurants are struggling with staff, a growing problem since the beginning of the year. David is among few who consider themselves lucky who didn’t face closures because of staffing shortage in the past few months.
“It hasn’t been dire,” he said. “We’ve been in a lot better situation than I know of a lot of other places in town, but it has still been a struggle. It has been stressful.”
But that was not the case with Butcher Shop in Little Rock that were forced to change their operating hours completely since they didn’t have enough workers to cover all seven days of the week. In an effort to continue properly delivering their service, they decided to run for only five days in a week.
Butcher Shop’s owner Al Watkins fears that with Omicron in place, the situation might get even worse.
“I can see less people coming in because they may be scared of being exposed to the possibility of the new variant,” he said.
Watkins believes the way to keep his customer base is through vaccinations.
“The people that aren’t being vaccinated are causing businesses to have to continually monitor the safety of their customers and their staff,” he said. “If we can get the vaccination rate up to a point to where it takes care of itself, I think more people will go out.”
As we approach the holiday season, health officials urge Arkansans to get vaccinated against the virus. Those who are still unvaccinated are urged to get their first shot as soon as now, while the fully vaccinated are strongly urged to get their booster dose.
For more details about the current Covid-19 situation in Arkansas, please visit Arkansas Department of Health website.
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