Without enough bakers to operate, she didn’t have a choice. She made the decision Thursday to close down for a week to give the whole staff time to “get tested and come back healthy hopefully.”
Wyman is paying her employees for the week off. But it’s coming out of her budget, so she’s late on paying rent for her home.
Although she hopes to open this weekend, the plan is fluid. She found out Wednesday that two more employees tested positive.
Omicron adds to staffing woes
The surge has triggered “widespread cancellations and closures, as already short-staffed businesses are hit with a wave of staff calling in sick,” Michael Pearce, senior US economist at Capital Economics, said in an email to clients Wednesday.
Several recent data points, which do not yet factor in the arrival of the Omicron variant, highlight the historically tight US labor market.
“Workers continued to quit their jobs at a historic rate. The low-wage sectors directly impacted by the pandemic continued to be the source of much of the elevated quitting,” Nick Bunker, director of research at the Indeed Hiring Lab, said in emailed comments Tuesday.
Employers also had 10.6 million jobs to fill in November, a slight decline compared with just over 11 million job openings in October.
‘Positive, positive, positive’
On December 18, Neir’s owner Loycent Gordon got a call from one of his bartenders who wasn’t feeling well. Later, the employee told Gordon that he had tested positive.
Gordon decided that the rest of the staff, which totals just about eight people altogether, should be tested.
“That’s when all hell broke loose,” he said. “Everybody started feeling sick, started putting in the group chat their test results. And everybody kept saying positive, positive, positive.”
For about a week and a half after that, Neir’s Tavern staff of eight shrank to just two people. Gordon himself tested positive during that period and suffered from symptoms, and had to isolate himself.
Because of the outages, Gordon closed the tavern for two days in addition to a planned closure on Christmas Day. He also canceled events like bar trivia and open mic night.
Hiring temporary staff was not an option, he said. With Gordon and most of his staffers out sick, “who’s going to train them?”
Gupshup, a modern Indian restaurant in Manhattan, has also suffered from staffing shortages, said owner Jimmy Rizvi. Because of workers calling out sick, Rizvi and other staffers have had to wear different hats to keep the restaurant running.
“I stepped in as host., my chef … had to work on the lines,” he said. On another occasion, when a bartender didn’t show up, a barback filled in.
The ad-hoc approach has meant that, so far, Gupshup hasn’t had to close its doors. As Rizvi said, “We juggled with our existing staff.”
CNN Business’ Anneken Tappe contributed to this article.