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COVID: New Restrictions Hit Struggling Bay Area Restaurants With Disappointing End To 2021

OAKLAND (KPIX) - Bay Area restaurants face new setbacks as the latest COVID-19 variant affects their staff and encourages businesses to take more precautions at the end of another difficult year during the pandemic.

"We had someone on the team test positive for COVID yesterday morning so we had to cancel the whole event and it's incredibly frustrating," said the creator of Hi Felicia Supper Club on Monday.

The project hosts dinners in Oakland as a pop-up but a restaurant is one of their goals for 2022. For now, their service is on hold and they will take January off to regroup.

Restaurants in Oakland and the South Bay posted limited service or temporary closures on social media.

"We've had such a year and 2021 was starting to look a little promising but it is what it is," said Tracy Marin, the regional manager of Asian Box in San Francisco.

The Cow Hollow neighborhood in San Francisco has many restaurants with various degrees of COVID restrictions depending on the business. Some have stayed in a takeout only format, others kept the safety measures they first brought out at the beginning of the pandemic.

"We are telling our stores to bring back hand sanitizers, in the stores we are making sure that everyone is wearing the proper masks, we have sneeze guards up," Marin told KPIX 5.

The Golden Gate Restaurant Association sent a newsletter to members on Monday encouraging the booster for any restaurant staff eligible for the additional dose as a way to protect from the Omicron variant.

"It's just the new normal I think, we have to get used to this new variant," Imana with Hi Felicia Supper Club.

The California Restaurant Association said Monday, in a statement, that the latest variant is evidence that the pandemic continues to impact restaurants. The CRA said the industry will need help to come out of the challenges of the past two years.

The Restaurant Revitalization Fund should be replenished by Congress, according to the association.

Individuals who are looking to start their own restaurant in 2022 agree with that call for support from the government.

"Some of us have given a lot of our lives and our hearts and our money to hospitality," Imana said. "Restaurants are forever, no one is ever not going to want to go out and eat but it's just especially hard right now on any guest services industry."

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