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Miami-Dade Restaurants Prep For Easing Of COVID Restrictions

An employee sets a table for pickup orders at a restaurant in Arlington, Va. Even as states are moving to reopen their economies, tens of millions are out of work.
Olivier Douliery
AFP via Getty Images
Pandemic-related closures left many hospitality workers unemployed.

Restaurants and bars will return to pre-pandemic hours but it doesn’t mean all restaurants will be able to operate full throttle right away.

Miami-Dade County will be open for business past midnight beginning next week for the first time since July.

County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava announced the lifting of a COVID-related curfew this week.

The announcement allows restaurants and bars to return to pre-pandemic hours of operation but Michael Beltran, chef and owner of Ariete Hospitality Group said it doesn’t mean all restaurants will be able to operate full throttle right away.

“There’s a good chance that we won’t be able to open later every day of the week like we had previously because there is no staff to do so,” Beltran said.

Pandemic-related closures left many hospitality workers unemployed. In February, there were 20% fewer people working in the hospitality industry than a year earlier in South Florida.

“Staffing is a huge issue right now, there are plenty of jobs to be had and there isn’t many workers to have them,” Beltran said.

Carlos Frias is the Miami Herald’s food editor. He said there is a shortage of hospitality workers nationwide.

“Restaurants have been limited in their capacity for so long and some of these folks that had a limited ability to work, you know limited hours and what have you, just decided to go in a different field,” Frias said.

Frias said with COVID-19 vaccines now being available to all adults who want one, the next month and a half will be a good barometer to see how comfortable people are returning to hospitality jobs.

“When folks are able to get vaccines, when they are fully vaccinated, are they finally going to say ‘Ok, now I feel safer working in an environment where I am around unmasked people?’" Frias said.

Despite the easing of coronavirus restrictions in Miami-Dade County, Beltran said his hospitality group plans to continue to enforce mask requirements and keep tables spaced out as much as possible at their restaurants.

“I don’t feel like just because the government could be relaxing guidelines means I am going to relax the way that I've been operating, because i’d rather not go back to square one,” Beltran said.

Andrea Perdomo is a reporter for WGCU News. She started her career in public radio as an intern for the Miami-based NPR station, WLRN. Andrea graduated from Florida International University, where she was a contributing writer for the student-run newspaper, The Panther Press, and also a member of the university's Society of Professional Journalists chapter.