Bay Area restaurant workers hit hard by breakthrough COVID infections

Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – As cases continue to surge in the Bay Area, the highly transmissible delta variant is making its way into some of our favorite restaurants.

Several restaurants in San Francisco and other cities are choosing to temporarily close due to breakthrough COVID cases among staff members.

Just when many restaurant owners thought they were getting back on their feet again after being closed or limited to outdoor dining for so long, this latest wave in COVID cases is changing all of that.

For some restaurants, this sort of closure can cost them up to $100,000 or more.

The doors have been shut and locked at Moroccan restaurant Aziza near 22nd Avenue and Geary Boulevard in San Francisco’s Richmond District since last week.

The sign posted on the door informing guests that they’ll be temporarily closed until further notice.

Chef Mourad Lahlou says they made the decision after one of their employees tested positive for COVID. 

“Immediately we did not even open for service, we sent everybody home and closed down the restaurant and required everybody get tested,” Lahlou said. 

Lahlou says a total of three employees of their fully vaccinated staff tested positive soon after.

“Just when you think you’re getting some traction you get hit with something like this and it just sets you back for sure. We’re going to be in the red for the majority of the year probably just to recoup the revenue,” Lahlou said. 

Lahlou says the 12-day closure will cost them around $150,000 between sales, wages, and wasted food.

However, they’re not the only ones dealing with large losses due to these closures.

Nari in Japantown posted on social media that it will be closed until Wednesday due to three breakthrough cases among its staff who are also fully vaccinated.

In their post on Instagram, Nari explained that two of these team members tested negative with the rapid antigen tests at first, however later tested positive once given a PCR test.

Ramen Shop in Oakland also took to social media a few days ago to alert customers that one of their vaccinated employees tested positive and that they would remain closed for a few days to do testing and cleaning.

With many of these staff members getting COVID from guests and community exposures, Lahlou hopes the state or at least local leadership will mandate vaccinations for people to enter restaurants, theaters, and other entertainment venues.

“I do believe the mayor or governor need to stand up and mandate and make it a law,” Lahlou said. 

Aziza says its 12-day closure expires on Thursday.

They plan to safely open their doors back open to customers on Friday.

They say these closures and cases are yet another reason for those unvaccinated to get vaccinated and protect others.

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