Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association hopes free COVID-19 testing will help with worker shortages
“Restaurants are going through the past two weeks, some of the worst two weeks they’ve had since Covid began,” said Yehuda Sichel, chef and owner of Huda in Center City. “Even worse than last January.”
Sichel said the problem was two-fold: the lack of workers showing up at their downtown offices and employees calling in sick from Covid-19.
“We just don’t have any workers coming in,” Sichel said. “The streets are quite empty during the day.”
To help solve the problem, the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association distributed free take-out Covid tests to hospitality workers.
“All around Christmas and all around (the) New Year, many restaurants were closing simply because they didn’t have enough staff to open their restaurants and it had to do with them being sick with Covid” , said Ben Fileccia, director of operations and strategy for the Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association. “To get them back to work and healthy, we want to make sure they’re tested and they’re negative.”
Hostess Devon Burke arrived for a free at-home test and said she was grateful.
“It’s just really scary to travel the world and work and see my co-workers and see my roommates not knowing if I have Covid or not,” Burke said.
Labor shortages due to Covid are also impacting SEPTA, a company that is also struggling to find enough employees.
Before the holidays, SEPTA had an average of 370 absences out of its 2,600 bus operators. This number rose to 490 in early January.
Last week, an average of 600 bus drivers were absent each day.
“What we have to do is assess day by day, sometimes team by team, depending on our availability. So we haven’t reduced the scheduled service, but what we have to do is make on-the-fly adjustments,” SEPTA spokesman Andrew Busch said.
The Philadelphia Streets Department announced that it was experiencing delays in garbage collection and recycling due to Covid infections.
The Philadelphia School District is also temporarily switching other schools to virtual learning due to the rise of omicron.
Copyright © 2022 WPVI-TV. All rights reserved.