The Summit County Public Health Order was updated on Tuesday, November 30, and the latest version contains a few tweaks, including a recommendation that restaurants and bars require customers aged 12 and over to be vaccinated.
Just days after the order was updated, the County and Summit Chamber of Commerce co-hosted a virtual town hall that looked at the impact of the virus on the community and state. At the end of the presentation, Summit County Director of Public Health Amy Wineland made some suggestions on steps business owners could take to help curb the spread of the virus, including implementing a vaccine requirement for guests and staff, allowing staff to be absent if they feel ill and to be tested if they have symptoms.
But some business owners are reluctant to implement a mask mandate let alone a vaccine requirement. While many business owners recognize the health of customers and staff as their number one priority, they have said they also need to balance other effects at play when measures like these are in place.
Rootstalk owner Matt Vawter said his restaurant team aims to create an enjoyable experience for customers.
âOur mission is to make people happy when they walk in the door and to create a special experience. It’s food with food and fun with friends and good conversation, âVawter said. âThis is our goal in the hospitality industry. When you start getting hotel workers to be the police at the door, you are already turning the experience – from the minute they walk in the door – into a different experience.
Vawter said he is not currently exploring a guest vaccine requirement, but all of his staff are fully vaccinated by their own choice. He predicted that if the county forced him to implement a vaccine requirement for guests, it would place an additional burden on his staff, who would face much criticism from visitors who are not in favor of the guests. mandates.
This is no revelation for the county leaders. In fact, at a Summit County Board of Health meeting on November 23, Summit County Manager Scott Vargo told other county leaders that a group of business owners, d Hospital workers and others had been trained to assess the impact of various virus mitigation strategies on their industries. . Vargo said the response was that additional measures could have serious consequences for frontline staff.
âThis group has raised a lot of concerns about the impacts on frontline workers of any kind of mask warrant or any sort of vaccination requirement in terms of putting these frontline workers in the way of those entering their field. retail store or restaurant. Vargo said at the meeting.
Business owners don’t just fear reviews from certain customers. It is also the possible financial repercussions. Vawter said if his restaurant implemented a vaccine requirement it would likely turn business away, whether it was because of people not being made aware of the vaccine requirement prior to booking their reservation or because of people who will not support establishments that have such a requirement in place.
âIf they don’t have a vaccine, I’m faced at that point in telling them to go and miss this deal, and I booked this table for this group, and now they’re gone,â he said. Vawter said, “Now I have to hope that someone down the street will come in person and fill that seat (and) get vaccinated.”
Lisa Holenko, co-owner of Next Page Books & Nosh in Frisco, said she hadn’t had time to assess whether a vaccine requirement made sense for her store, but it wasn’t ruled out. Holenko said if she implemented such a policy, she would likely need to hire another part-time staff member, which is one more financial aspect to consider.
âIt’s unfortunate – and I always would – but you need someone at the door,â Holenko said. âI have to put another person on staff to do it. We did this last year. We had someone at the door counting the number of people entering. â¦ But it is also a financial burden for us.