Biden’s silent shutdown: Businesses shutter amid vaccine mandates, extended COVID relief

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Staff shortages are compounding the crisis after federal unemployment benefits and vaccine mandates

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There is a silent shutdown boom across the United States following President Biden’s vaccine mandate on businesses, along with staff shortages following government shutdowns and an increase in recently-expired federal unemployment benefits.

“Damn this pandemic and the situation we were put in. Business has shut down significantly, but the hardest part is the inability to hire employees. Despite paying more than any restaurant I know, any job doesn’t want to,” owner Bablu’s Bodius Bar-B-Que, Boo McKinnon, wrote on facebook It closed the doors of its Winter Park, Florida, restaurant location for the last time since last Saturday.

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McKinnon is not alone. Other restaurants and businesses are now struggling to keep the doors open, some citing hesitation over vaccine requirements and owners unable to find workers after more than a year of unemployment benefits from the federal government.

Fear of shortage of government employees intensifies

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“Certainly, it’s exacerbating the situation,” says Philippe Massoud, owner and chef at Illy & Illy Box in New York City, about workers leaving their jobs Because of a vaccine mandate last month. “We hope they change their mind down the line. … Plus you’re dealing with the boom of the delta version, which also creates its own complexity. So, we’re getting a little hit from everywhere.”

The threat of a vaccine mandate hindering restaurants’ ability to rent has been brewing for months now, with restaurant owners warning in August that encouraging rather than implementing vaccines could help keep workers at their jobs. Is.

David Barr, owner of 44 KFC and Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop franchise locations in Alabama and Georgia, told CNBC in August, “We’ve decided to encourage the mandate, the vaccination.” “Both because of today’s tight labor force – we do not wish to potentially lose another 20 to 30% of our workforce – and from a policy standpoint of just looking at DC or the Statehouse what policy should be regarding vaccines. “

But on September 9, President Biden announced a federal vaccine mandate for companies with more than 100 employees to require vaccination or weekly coronavirus testing, which affects 100 million Americans. Employers who break the rules can face fines of up to $14,000 per violation.

A survey published this week has already found that 72% of non-vaccinated workers He said he would quit his job if he was not exempted from the vaccine.

Biden business vaccine mandate raises questions for major trade group

Biden has also come under fire from small business owners who say his vaccine mandate is proof that he is not in their corner fighting for their survival.

“I don’t think they [the Biden administration] On the small business side—I think they’re on someone else’s side,” said Sharpness, Inc. president Jerry Akers, which owns 36 “Great Clips” franchise locations, on Monday. “The Faulkner Focus.”

“What else can we handle? What else can a small business handle with everything that’s been going on over the past two years?” Akers asked.

Meanwhile, restaurants across the country have closed their doors or tightened hours of operation, saying they are fighting a losing battle since the lockdown last year.

“It is with great sadness that we announce that Colonel’s Kitchen is closing permanently at the end of September. This has been a very difficult decision,” Restaurant Colonel’s Kitchen Posted on Facebook Thursday in northern Kentucky. “The restaurant business is challenging in the best of times, which certainly aren’t. We’ve struggled for over a year and it’s time to stop fighting a losing battle.”

One economist said federal unemployment benefits that only dried up this month have exacerbated the workforce crisis for businesses, and “increased unemployment and forced many businesses to close.”

“One of the most well-known facts in labor economics is that higher unemployment benefits tend to increase unemployment,” Thomas Hogan, an economist at the American Institute for Economic Research, told Granthshala News. “One reason it’s hard for businesses to find workers is that the government is literally paying people to not work.”

Federal unemployment benefits that were giving people an additional $300 each week and ended on Labor Day cut an estimated 7.5 million people from three relief programs that were first created in March 2020 and were later renewed twice by Congress. Had gone.

Biden also urged states with high unemployment last month to use leftover stimulus funds to expand pandemic unemployment programs, but No state answered his call.

“It should be noted here that no state is extending this benefit beyond Sept. 4,” Democratic New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said in a statement. press briefing on 30 August. “It would currently cost at least $314 million per week and probably hundreds of millions of dollars more.”

Additional unemployment benefits ending soon, millions without income

Hogan said that as soon as the benefits run out, “we should see more workers returning to the labor force, which will enable the ongoing economic recovery.”

But nearly two weeks after the federal program ended, businesses across the country are still reporting struggles to hire workers and are shuttering.

In Georgia, a burrito chain temporarily closed after all employees quit because they worked seven days a week for a month. In Colorado Springs, a Dunkin’ location closed temporarily because can’t find this worker, and a restaurant in the Central Wisconsin Airport, The Blind Rooster Kitchen + Bar, was recently forced to reduce its seating area due to staff shortage.

“We can’t hire people,” said Alex Apodaka, chief operating officer of JB Partners, an Arizona-based franchise that manages seven Dunkin’ stores in the Colorado Springs area.

Other businesses have also lamented that they are not getting workers right now.

“The people I have are great,” says Al Cohen of Big Al’s Super Value Store in Maine. “But I have five full-time and five part-time fewer than I had two years ago. And as a result, instead of being open for 11 and a half hours today, I’m open eight hours a day, which is a huge loss of revenue.”

Now, after 35 years in business, he is closing stores, citing the rise of online shopping and increased government regulations.

“It’s the right thing to do, but it’s so sad. I built the ship, and the ship is going great. Suddenly I don’t have a crew to steer the ship, so it’s time for the next chapter in my life,” Cohen said.

Congress exempted from Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate

Small businesses aren’t the only ones bleeding employees in recent times.

“The idea of ​​getting the vaccine now is absolutely terrifying,” said Keira Notbart, a registered nurse in New York who is about 19 weeks pregnant. Democrat and Chronicle. Notbart wants to wait until she is at least 30 weeks pregnant to get the vaccine after she miscarried last year. She does not want to take any risk during this pregnancy.

Notbart was then faced with the choice of getting the vaccine by September 27 or losing his job at Newark-Wayne Community Hospital.

Business owner reaction to broad vaccine mandate: Biden is ‘not in favor’ of small businesses

Other nurses have resigned over a vaccine mandate, some of which have a maternity ward In a New York hospital, after September 24 the hospital was forced to temporarily stop all child deliveries.

US health officials and the Biden administration are urging Americans to get the vaccine, after Biden said last week that it was imperative that people get the shot to protect themselves and everyone around them.

“It’s not about freedom or personal choice,” Biden said in an address to the nation last Thursday. “It’s about protecting yourself and the people around you, the people you work with, the people you care about, the people you love. My as president The job is to protect all Americans.”


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