'Why aren’t we on the list?' restaurant industry asks as others access vaccine
As of Wednesday, March 17, Covid vaccines are available to essential workers, including those who work in transit, farms, and grocery stores. But restaurant workers aren't included.
The Washington Hospitality Association and its 6,500 members are petitioning Gov. Jay Inslee to change his mind.
"Why aren't we on the list?" asked Uyen Nguyen, co-owner of Nue, a restaurant in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood.
Nguyen said that getting restaurant workers vaccinated is critical, now that indoor dining will be allowed at 50% capacity as of March 22. Restaurant workers, she added, need protection on the job where they’re exposed to customers without masks.
“A typical customer sits in the restaurant for an hour and half, even longer," she said. "That’s a long time to be exposed to them. So some of these customers leave and a new customer comes in. We’re the ones consistently there.”
Nguyen is among thousands in the restaurant business urging Governor Jay Inslee to prioritize their industry, one of the hardest hit groups during the pandemic.
The Washington Hospitality Association estimates about 2,500 restaurants have permanently closed.
The state says there aren’t enough vaccines at the moment for everyone, but it’s an issue that’s still under discussion.
This story has been updated.