By now, just about everyone in South Carolina is familiar with the graph charting the state’s new coronavirus cases. The trend line looks like a child’s drawing of a mountain cliff or a letter ‘L’ in repose, with a plateau followed by a sharp vertical flourish.
It also perfectly mirrors the fear and anxiety that food-and-beverage employees across downtown Charleston say they experience at work.
With positive tests for the coronavirus progressively thinning out local restaurant staffs, workers say they have less time to keep up with new sanitation protocols and more reason to worry about contracting the potentially deadly virus.
In interviews conducted over the past week by The Post and Courier, multiple employees at half a dozen leading Charleston restaurants have shared a remarkably similar story: They feel abandoned by public officials who championed reopening without restriction and endangered by patrons who mock their masks and flout social distancing rules.
Many front-of-house workers are so tired and stressed that they wish restaurants would revert to offering takeout exclusively, even if it would cost them tips.
“The restaurant industry feels unsafe,” says a former Leon’s Oyster Shop server who last month quit after learning co-workers who were exposed to the virus at a dinner party were still on the schedule.
“The restaurant industry feels unsafe. A lot of people want to get out of there, but it’s so hard to find another job,” a former Leon’s Oyster Shop server said.https://t.co/gU3ORr6ZBT
— The Post and Courier (@postandcourier) July 2, 2020