Restaurants brace for decline in business with threat of omicron

The latest surge in the omicron variant of COVID is impacting restaurants around the Bay Area as the busy holiday season kicks into high gear.

Restaurants are bracing for the possibility of a decrease in business and are urging staff to get boosted.

Some restaurants are still struggling to recover from the impact of the pandemic over the last 20 months and anticipate another possible jolt.

In the East Bay, Snail Bar in Oakland posted on social media that it's starting their planned winter break early because a staff member had been exposed to someone who'd tested positive COVID. The restaurant plans to reopen in January.

The head of San Francisco's Golden Gate Restaurant Association said restaurants face the potential hit of having to shell out sick pay without federal reimbursement, even as they have to close their doors because of potential exposure.

The restaurant association has taken steps, urging staff who are already fully vaccinated, to get boosted, and sending out a newsletter detailing how and where staff can get those additional shots.

"We've told our staffs and most of our board is pushing this as well, really everybody that's restaurant staff and certainly their families that are eligible, should go ahead and get the booster shots," said the association's head Laurie Thomas.

Some restaurants around the Bay Area already said they are noticing a slowing of business that coincided with the rise of the omicron variant.

Restaurateurs are asking the public to help keep their neighbors safe and in business as this latest phase of COVID takes aim at small businesses.

"We are asking that if anybody wants to, doesn't feel comfortable dining inside to please give their restaurant as much lead time as possible. Like, don't just bail on the reservation right before it, let us know because that controls the staffing and if we get cancellations that night or 'no-shows' God forbid, then that hurts our workers," said Thomas.

Restaurants are reminding customers to get their own vaccinations. They say even if some restaurants restrict indoor dining, outdoor dining may still be a possibility even in the colder rainy conditions we may see over the next few days.