New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that restaurant workers are now eligible for the sought-after Covid-19 vaccine. The decision comes just one day after he called it, “a cheap, insincere discussion,” because the state didn’t have enough doses. Local governments will be responsible for administering the vaccine, according to availability.
Mr. Cuomo has been facing increased criticism for his handling of the novel coronavirus, especially within the hospitality community. Restaurant & Bar reported that the decision to open New York City dining rooms at 25% capacity caused widespread tension. Venue operators are pushing for increased capacity while concerned patrons and staff worry the dining rooms will lead to more infections.
The governor changed his mind after news broke that New York would be receiving a 20% increase in weekly vaccine allotments. The increased dosages mean that counties can expand eligibility to include hospitality staff, taxi drivers and people in developmentally disabled facilities, pending availability. “Now there is additional flexibility, And I’m leaving it up to local governments to determine what fits their situation best,” said Mr. Cuomo.
NYC Hospitality Alliance executive director Andrew Rigie, who recently critiqued the governor for only allowing dining rooms to open at 25% capacity, expressed his support for the decision in a statement. “Restaurant workers have been essential to our city during the pandemic…the NYC Hospitality Alliance is committed to advocating for our industry, and is ready and willing to support vaccine education and outreach to the restaurant community immediately upon its availability to these essential workers.”
Details surrounding the vaccine rollout for hospitality workers remain vague, but the policy makes New York one of the first states to vaccinate restaurant workers. Washington D.C. restaurant workers have been eligible since February 1st, but the vaccinations have been delayed due to inclement weather.
It’s clear that other states and cities are eager to follow suit. Chicago is expected to open vaccine eligibility to restaurant workers this month, California has announced food workers will be eligible in Spring 2021, and Texas lobbyists and officials are putting pressure on the Lone Star State to vaccinate restaurant workers, to name a few.
Martha Hoover, a sex crimes prosecutor turned Patachou Inc. owner and industry advocate, has taken to Instagram to encourage government officials in Indiana to vaccinate healthcare workers, while succinctly outlining the vital role restaurants play in the local economy. In the post she writes, “Please help by letting our leaders in Indiana know that the health of Indiana’s 350,000 foodservice employees and the security of the 12,000 eating and drinking establishments (with their $13 billion dollars in sales in our state where every dollar spent in the table service segment contributes almost 2 dollars to the state’s overall economy) matter.”