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COVID: San Francisco Restaurants Hit Hard With Staff Shortages As Omicron Surges

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) -- San Francisco now has the third highest COVID transmission rate in the state, behind Los Angeles County. California's current testing positivity rate is 15.9% - up from 9.7% last week.

There are about 600 new cases a day on average in San Francisco. Many restaurants have reported cases among staff members, forcing them to temporarily close.

New Belgium Brewery in Mission Bay says it saw about a 25% drop in reservations Monday evening. They also have fewer staff members on hand.

"I actually kind of do everything, I'm serving, bartending, working the front, just cause there's so few of us that are actually left," said host Jacob Jackman. "We actually had a few employees that tested positive, so we've been really short-staffed. So we kind of adjust things accordingly and do the best we can."

Several popular restaurants across the city had to shut down entirely due to the surge.

Piperade on Battery Street announced on Instagram that it will be temporarily closed until next Tuesday for the safety and well-being of its staff and guests.

Pearl 6101 in the Outer Richmond announced Sunday that it's not taking any chances and will close to get its staff tested.

Mourad in the Financial District did the same, before reopening last week.

"The first week it hit, we did not see it coming," said Chef and Owner Mourad Lahlou. "I really felt like we were over the hump, and we turned the corner, and it's going to be a situation of managing a case here and there. But then when Omicron came, it came with a vengeance."

To complicate matters, tests results weren't always consistent, he said.

"There were a lot of false positives, and that's when we were really confused as to what was legit, what was not legit, which test was reliable, which test was not reliable," Lahloud said. "We decided to close for 10 days and just be on the safe side and we incurred a lot of losses."

He said the bright spot was that none of his staff members became seriously ill.

Right now, the latest data shows 63 people hospitalized with COVID in San Francisco. That's up from 24 at the beginning of last month, but still much lower than 220 patients one year ago.

"Silver lining is vaccines protect us against serious disease and this is hopefully going to exit very, very quickly," said UCSF infectious disease specialist Dr. Peter Chin-Hong.

He said after the surge, we will have quite a bit of community immunity and hopefully that will give us a months-long reprieve until the next variant appears.

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