What It's Like Working At A Restaurant During A Pandemic
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I Spoke To An OU College Student Who Works At BJ's Restaurant In Norman And I Learned So Much

It's impossible to not be impacted by COVID-19 right now.

I Spoke To An OU College Student Who Works At BJ's Restaurant In Norman And I Learned So Much
Gabby Pineros

This is a crazy and difficult time for everyone right now and everyone has been impacted. Personally, I had to end my second to last semester of senior year early due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic while I had friends who were graduating during it. There could definitely be more that we all do as a community in order to prevent more spread of the virus and we all need to take it seriously. I interviewed my close friend, Gabby, for this article.

Where do you work and how long have you been working there?

At BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse (Norman, Oklahoma). A year and a half.

What is your work's procedures regarding COVID-19?

During the quarantine, we extended the number of curbside parking spots that we had to better accommodate the number of takeout orders that we were having. We also started to deliver ourselves instead of only delivering through our third party services. When our dining room opened up May 1, we had several procedures that changed. We have to wear gloves and a mask at all times when we are working. All of our tables have to be 6 feet apart due to social distancing. The tables are by reservation only. Usually, we all help out and run each other's food but because of the situation, the only people that can interact with tables are the server that is assigned to the table and a manager.

What is the protocol to keep you and other co-workers safe?

The protocol to keep us safe is to wear a mask and gloves at all times. However, I do not feel very safe at all. Guests are not required to wear face coverings. We still have a very high chance of getting COVID-19 if a guest that I was waiting on had it. Unless both people are wearing face-covering then the face masks are not really doing us any good because it doesn't provide much protection.

What would make you feel safer that the restaurant isn't already doing?

There is nothing that would really make me feel any safer other than not having had to return to serving guests so soon. I wish we would have continued take out only for a little while longer.

What is your biggest change in your day-to-day routine at work because of COVID-19? What about at home?

The biggest change that we have had at work has been our check-in process and procedures such as wearing a mask and gloves. At the beginning of every shift, we have to fill out a form that asks us if we have had any of the common COVID-19 symptoms such as a dry cough, sore throat, fever, chills, and short of breath. We have to sign it and a manager has to sign it.

At home, things have been very different. We are taking things very seriously and have been disinfecting everything before it comes into the house. Any clothes that we wear out in public we leave outside in the garage until we wash it.

Describe some of your co-workers thoughts on the outbreak. Are they taking it seriously or as a joke?

We are all taking it pretty seriously. Most of us don't even know what to think about the situation. Some are scared to be serving right now because we do not feel very protected. Others just want to get back to normal and not have to wear masks all of the time because they are very uncomfortable.

How do you feel about the national news coverage of COVID-19? Accurate? Downplaying the situation?

I definitely feel like the news is downplaying it and leaving some key details out, but then again everyone has their own opinions about this situation.

What is one thing you wish you could tell the U.S. about COVID-19?

I wish everyone would just wear masks so that we are not as exposed even when we go out.

How is your personal life affected?

It has been hard getting used to not working as much since restaurants were take-out only. I was used to working six days a week and at most I am working three or four now. It has been hard not to be able to go out and being home all of the time. I am usually out and about with friends. I also haven't been able to work out and that was a great way to start my day.

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