This morning I had the pleasure of meeting with government￼ officials from the DC Department of Health￼ and the DC Council. We discussed anxiety and coping strategies for the many service Industry employees heading back to work. ￼Also included were local restaurant leadership/owners, business leaders, and legal experts. It was very informative, and more info to come.
Virginia is starting phase 2, Maryland is 1.5, and DC is taking a slower and more measured approach, even though throngs of protesters certainly make that a challenge.
6 Big Takeaways Regarding the Restaurant and Bar Industry￼
1. You can and should call in sick if you need to. You cannot be penalized or retaliated against by employers.
2. Similarly, if there are health practices in your business establishment that make you uncomfortable, you are protected as a whistle blower.￼
3. My point: Restaurant leadership needs to inform patrons about the procedures and protocols. Often, people who seem to have bad behavior, simply don’t know what they are supposed to be doing and not doing. Information needs to be readily available on websites and in restaurants.￼
People are excited to go back to restaurants, but this is not a one-sided deal. Respect those who feed you. ￼￼
4. The biggest concerns that front line restaurant and bar workers expressed to me:
– The trade-off between potential financial hardship and risking your life and your family’s on a daily basis to do your job￼￼. Remember, that patrons do not wear masks while eating, talking, and drinking. There is inherent risk.
– The complete uncertainty of what’s going to happen next. There could be another shut down in the near future, and there is no way to predict what’s going to happen. Business is certainly going to proceed at a lowered capacity.
– The porous lines between Virginia, Maryland, and DC. Workers and patrons going back-and-forth, making it harder to control safety regulations. ￼
– The pivot. 20% of restaurant jobs, and likely restaurants that are privately owned, will be gone￼￼. How does one transfer￼ the considerable skills that restaurant folks have to other fields￼?
– The importance of communication and feeling heard. I suggested that every restaurant have a team of people that are assigned to work with front of the house and back of the house workers as emotional coaches.￼
5. Mental health is just as important as physical health. ￼During the pandemic, clinical depression hit the highest national average recorded, in May 2020. That month, 50% of Americans met the criteria for major depression. ( US Census Bureau)￼
6. Self-care is crucial. In the best of times, the industry is one of the highest for levels of stress. Sleep well, eat healthy, exercise, meditate or follow personal spiritual practic￼es, rest, and have a strong social support network.￼
Seek therapy or teletherapy when needed. Resources are available.