The delta variant means that restaurants are not yet giving up their pandemic business models

When Oregon’s Governor Kate Brown announced that the state would lift the majority of its COVID-19 security mandates, Steven Nguyen, the owner of SE Hawthorne Boba Cafe Fat Straw, began preparations. He planned to reopen the inside of his cafe two weeks after the restrictions went away, which would give him time to clean up the staff and clean up the room.

But in these two weeks it is Delta variant – a highly contagious strain of the COVID-19 virus – gained ground in the United States and quickly spread to unvaccinated communities and even infect vaccinated people. Hospital stays and deaths crept up consists almost entirely of unvaccinated people. In Oregon is the Delta variant not quite as common as in other parts of the country. However, COVID-19 is still spreading rapidly across the state. especially in counties with low vaccination rates: In late July, the state reported thousands of new cases every day, a high point in the surge that has occurred since the state lifted its COVID-19 safety regulations. and Hospital stays continue to increase.

So Nguyen decided to postpone his reopening plans and keep his walk-in window for the foreseeable future. Although he is fully vaccinated, the risk of breakthrough cases and the potential for spread prevents him from eating indoors. “I have two young children who are under 12 years old and have not been vaccinated,” he says. „My employees are definitely worried about Delta, so I’ll wait until Delta is under control or we vaccinate more people.”

Fat Straw is one of many Portland restaurants and cafes that keep their walk-in windows, even though the state doesn’t have COVID-19 restrictions on businesses. Although many of the staff at these restaurants are fully vaccinated, like Nguyen, they are concerned about them People they could infect, as well as long-term effects of a possible breakthrough case. Many of the restaurant and café owners who had planned to dine indoors again by the end of July are hoping to reopen before the start of winter, fearing another financial hurdle. However, they are concerned that if more Oregonians avoid vaccination, it could spell another catastrophically slow season limited to take-away and delivery.

At the beginning of the pandemic, when restaurants and bars were banned as a safety precaution for take-out and delivery services, many restaurants and bar owners in Portland began to build walk-in windows in the facade of their buildings: cafes like either / oder and Proud Mary built pastry suitcases for theirs Order counter, and places like the Eem Thai grill bar and the Lauretta Jeans cake shop have built in separate pickup and pickup windows to reduce the potential for crowds. Lauretta Jeans owner Kate McMillan set up the walk-in window of her division cafe at the start of the pandemic to keep staff up and running again. “It just felt like, ‘Wow, this thing is not going anywhere. What are we going to do to serve people and feel safe? ‘”She says. „It felt like it was going to work: the customers felt good about it and everyone was really happy not to have any customers in the building.”

As soon as Portland restaurants and bars reopened, some Portland restaurants with walk-in windows began to dine more al fresco, adding patios and cabanas to be a little closer to dine-in service. Many of these companies saw the outdoor model as a stepping stone to a larger reopening: Eem co-owner Earl Ninsom planned to reopen the inside of the restaurant this summer but is holding back because of the rise of the Delta variant. His Thai restaurant, Isan, Paadee, was known for its larb and the intimate Langbaan nightclub, which was located in a back room; Now both Paadee and Langbaan share a takeaway window and terrace where snacks and noodle soups are served. In contrast to wrestling with the transition from summer to autumn, Ninsom Paadee will close in September and October so the restaurant team can visit the family in Thailand. Langbaan returns to its tasting menu model on the terrace in mid-September.

After that, Ninsom hopes to be able to open his dining room again when the cold sets in. But this plan only works if the state – and the country – can avoid further closures. Some cities like San Francisco, have reintroduced mask mandates, and New York diners will have to present a vaccination certificate to dine indoors from the end of this month. In recent times, Oregon has not added any new restrictions to the state’s operations; as I said, the Oregon Health Authority and Multnomah County recommend the universal use of masks in all indoor and public places Masks are required in the coming school year.

In general, these recommendations and reintroduced mandates are intended to serve to contain the rising number of cases, hospital admissions and deaths, and the potential for further shutdown. However, some business owners are not comfortable reopening indoors with the current COVID-19 history, regardless of what the state requires or allows. “My gut feeling tells me that we won’t be going back to the dining room in 2021. I want that not to be the case, that would be cool; I find it hard to believe that’s going to happen, ”says McMillan. “I don’t want to lose my sense of taste and smell; that would be really difficult for me as a cook, baker, person. „

The delta wave is here: let’s go [E]
Why vaccinated people get ‘breakthrough infections’ [NYT]
Breakthrough cases are not the cause of the rise in Covid-19 in the US [Vox]
The Delta variant causes 83% of COVID cases in the US. Check out the states where it is most common [Fortune]
• Multnomah County now urges people to wear masks in restaurants and bars – vaccinated or not [EPDX]
• How the coronavirus is affecting the Portland dining world [EPDX]

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