Omicron will interrupt staffing even if the days of isolation are reduced

On Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shortened the isolation time for people who get half of COVID-19.

The agency now says that people with no symptoms can be safely around others five days after their test results are positive, replacing previous guidance that people who test positive should stay home and isolate themselves for a full 10 days

With the increase in cases of the omicron variant, some industries are facing another wave of staff shortages.

Juan Padro owns 12 restaurants in the Denver area. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, he said everyone had tested workers positive for COVID.

“We had a situation where a kid was throwing an ugly sweater party in a one-room apartment,” said Padro. On the guest list were employees from three of Padro’s restaurants, “and all of them have COVID. In earnest.”

Since these workers would isolate themselves and others would not come in for fear of infection, Padro temporarily closed several of his restaurants.

“This was probably the toughest time we’ve ever had from a personnel point of view,” he said.

According to Omicron, staffing will not only be a nuisance in the service industry Glen Mays with the Colorado School of Public Health.

“It has the potential to exacerbate the health care shortage even further,” he said.

In other industries, Mays said, employers could still pressure sick workers, or workers could make that call themselves because they couldn’t afford the free time.

“Such trends could be very problematic in facilitating the spread of this virus in the workplace,” said Mays.

At the start of the pandemic, the temporary government support helped keep workers safe and businesses alive, the company said Aaron Sojourner, a labor economist from the University of Minnesota.

“So basically yes, like taking the cost off the company’s books and putting it in a social security system,” he said.

Now that the statutory COVID sick leave and associated tax incentives have expired, Sojourner said the companies are on their own.

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