Local restaurant staff shunned by public amid CDC guidelines and pandemic protocols – FOX23 News

TULSA, Okla. – As COVID-19 restrictions have allowed people to regain some of their pre-pandemic lives, businesses across the country have reopened.

With the boom in the Delta variant, companies have had to make important decisions about safety and the continuation of their business.

Sometimes their efforts are met with negative reactions from potential customers.

Mercury Lounge – a gas station turned into a bar in downtown Tulsa – feels so shrug from customers that they’ve taken extra security measures to keep staff safe. For bar co-owner Bobby Dean Orcutt, it’s important that businesses do what they can to stop the spread of COVID-19.

“We’re not scientists, we’re bartenders,” Orcutt said. “And we’re trying to figure out how to stay in business and provide a safe environment.”

In an effort to keep staff and customers safe, Mercury Lounge has put more policies in place to deal with the pandemic.

“We follow a lot of music industry standards,” he told FOX23. “All of our staff wear masks. One hundred percent of our staff is vaccinated.

Additionally, Mercury Lounge requires guests to wear a mask indoors, near the door and on the patio.

These efforts have recently received some backlash from customers.

“Just last night, [a customer] was standing right there in the parking lot and lost it screaming, ”Orcutt recalls. “They were really angry, but that doesn’t change the fact that we have to do what we have to do to stay in business.”

Orcutt told FOX23 that the Mercury Lounge has stepped up security measures to keep staff members safe.

“We have additional security personnel. We’re all on heightened alert, extra lights around the building, ”Orcutt explained.

Nationally, hostility towards restaurant workers over these protocols has only worsened.

Earlier this month, a restaurant hostess in New York City was physically assaulted by a group of patrons after asking for their vaccination cards before she could enter the facility.

According to a study by One Fair Wage, 54% of workers in the service sector reported an increase in harassment due to COVID-19 protocols. Seventy-five percent of workers have reported a decrease in tips since the start of the pandemic.

Additionally, a report in Science Daily explained that waiters and bartenders experienced higher levels of psychological distress, along with drug and alcohol abuse.

All of these factors have contributed to more than half of all workers deciding to leave the service industry for good.

“We want to create a space where everyone feels welcome, but there is also a hard line in the sand as to what is acceptable behavior and what is not,” Orcutt said.

Despite this increase in negativity from customers, Orcutt said they received support from regulars at the establishment.

He stressed that kindness and understanding go a long way during this time.

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