“Why aren’t we on the list?” »Restaurant Industry Asks As Others Access Vaccine

As of Wednesday, March 17, Covid vaccines have been available for essential workers, including those who work in transport, farms and grocery stores. But catering employees are not included.

The Washington Hospitality Association and its 6,500 members are asking Governor 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 it is essential to vaccinate restaurant workers, now that indoor meals will be allowed at 50% capacity from March 22. Restaurant workers, she added, need protection at work where they are exposed to customers without masks.

“A typical customer sits at a restaurant for an hour and a half or more,” she said. “It’s a long time to be exposed to them. Some of those customers leave and a new customer comes in. We’re the ones who are still there.

Nguyen is among thousands of restaurant professionals urging Gov. Jay Inslee to prioritize their industry, one of the groups hardest hit during the pandemic.

The Washington Hospitality Association estimates that approximately 2,500 restaurants have closed permanently.

The state says there aren’t enough vaccines right now for everyone, but it’s an issue that’s still under discussion.

This story has been updated.

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Cecil N. Messick