Staff, supply shortages affecting businesses, especially restaurants

Reporter: Emma Heaton Writer: Joey Pellegrino
FILE: A labor shortage is affecting restaurants in Southwest Florida. (CREDIT: WINK News)

Many commenters on the WINK News Facebook page said their favorite restaurants have been operating on altered schedules.

Bokampers in Naples is closed Monday through Wednesday. A Taco Bell in Cape Coral is only open until 5 p.m.

The omicron variant is putting a strain on the workforce in almost every industry, and it’s impacting each of us differently.  But what we’re not seeing this year, compared to years past, is item hoarding; you can still get toilet paper when you head to the store. But be warned: You might not get the brand you want.

With so many employees calling out sick, Florida Gulf Coast University economics professor Victor Claar said it’s important for businesses to stay flexible right now.

“People really appreciate it when their employers work with them in ways to make their lives more manageable,” Claar said. If you can offer some flexible hours, if somebody does need to go get a test, if you make that work more easily for them… anything at all that you can do, because most decisions in economics and other parts of our life are not made in big, broad, sweeping ways. They’re made, and, ‘How can you make things a little more attractive for me or… can you make my life a little bit more manageable?'”

The United States Postal Service, for instance, tells WINK it doesn’t comment on positive cases due to privacy, but can assure everyone the postal service has resources in place to meet the service needs of customers.

Healthy employees are picking up for those who are out with COVID-19 or other illnesses, which is one reason businesses like restaurants are struggling. Add a shortage of supplies and you have the perfect recipe for overwhelmed industries.

Claar, says one of the greatest issues is positive tests.

“And people recording that dutifully and honestly, and then needing to take a timeout and be quarantined at home for a couple of days,” Claar said. “I think we’ll see the biggest impact in the places where you have lots of people working together in a concentrated space.”

Claar says there is a positive to come out of all this: While omicron is spreading, people don’t have to stay away from work as long as they used to. What was once weeks is now five days, which he says is really good news for the supply chain, at least.

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