Coming soon: crowded, mask-free barrooms. Uh, right?
We’ve all been waiting for the day that we can take a deep breath and say, “Finally, things are back to normal.” Many people presume that in Washington state the lifting of restrictions on June 30th will mark that blessed moment. Maybe that’s a bit optimistic. Maybe you should not make assumptions. It is more complicated than you might imagine.
“I don’t think people really understand the amount of effort going into this,” says Dione Dittmar, one of the owners/operators at Airways Brewing. “For us, the only real change [on June 30th] will be offering bar seating. I think that will be really fun to see people get to do that again.”
Yes, it will be fun. All of it. But it won’t be easy for businesses to jump back up on the horse and ride at full speed. You, as a good citizen, should recognize that everyone is doing what they can, and what they need, to do in order to move forward.
Dione adds, “I do anticipate a lot of people thinking that when restrictions are lifted, we can just go back to where we were 15 months ago without understanding that we are not staffed or logistically ready for that.”
Returning to full seating capacity, tossing aside the mask requirements, and all the rest, that might not prove so easy for the businesses you love and want to support. Be considerate. Do not assume that every business is ready to do what Beveridge Place Pub is doing.
“We are pretty much going back to normal,” says Gary Sink, publican at Beveridge Place Pub in West Seattle. “Seating at the bar, full capacity inside, just a few changes to how we were taking orders from customers, but basically going back to the way things were before.”
Now Hiring. All Positions
Gary acknowledges that he is fortunate that his pub is, basically, fully staffed. As has been widely reported, there is a pretty severe labor shortage in the hospitality/service industry, so some businesses are likely incapable of returning to full capacity. Staffing shortages are a real thing. If you haven’t heard, you’ve been living under a rock.
Airways Brewing operates two locations in Kent: The Taproom & Brewery, as well as the Bistro & Beer Garden downtown. Dione says that she also feels fortunate regarding her staffing level. “We are fortunate that we are just barely understaffed.”
Note that the words fortunate and understaffed appeared in that last statement. Perhaps that speaks to the dire situation across the industry.
She acknowledges that she is hearing from others in the industry that staffing up for the reopening is a problem. Do not assume that your favorite brewery taproom or bar is ready for this. Find out what they’re saying on social media.
Freedom is a Two-Way Street
As we roll back towards normal, it is not all about staffing levels and seating capacity. It is also about masks. Just because a business is no longer required to enforce a mask mandate, that does not mean they are not allowed to make their own decision about masks. Some businesses may choose to continue to enforce their own policies regarding masks.
Beer Star, a popular beer-focused bar in White Center, shared the following on social media: “Fully vaccinated customers do not need to wear a mask, but we also understand that some of you may not be ready to come in maskless. Please know that we will happily welcome our customers, regardless of whether or not you wear one. All of our fully vaccinated staff are being given the choice to mask, or not to mask. There will be no judgment here.”
The statement continues, “If you have not been vaccinated, please continue to wear a mask when not at your table out of consideration and safety of our staff and other guests.”
Note that they are placing a lot of trust in people. Some businesses may not be so trusting of the maskless public, especially after months of notorious abuse from some customers regarding government-mandated requirements. The business is now free to enforce a mask policy if they choose, just as you are free to shop elsewhere. Freedom is a two-way street.
Finally, whatever you run into out there, remember to be kind. Try to find out the lay of the land before you arrive, but keep your eyes open and be willing to adjust to what you find. We are all in this together, so please respect others’ opinions and decisions.
It is a welcome day. June 30th is a very significant and happy milestone. Personally, Kim and I will likely continue to spend a lot of time dining and imbibing in the great outdoors whenever it’s possible. It’s what we do. We hope to see your smiling faces out there somewhere.