Survey Says

Illustration of two surveys attached to clipboards, and two pens in between the surveys.
Comparing the survey results from EatDenver and the CRA is illuminating. / Copyright: zeynurbabayev

A handful of Front Range restaurants have waded into what might charitably be called the vaccine wars by announcing vaccine requirements for diners hoping to snag a seat inside. But for the most part, Colorado restaurants are taking a wait-and-see approach, as a pair of industry surveys illustrate.

Spurred on by the march of the COVID Delta variant across America, cities, businesses, and employers from coast to coast are rolling out their own mandates when it comes to the COVID vaccine. New York City residents will soon have to show proof of vaccination to access many indoor spaces, including restaurants; about 25 percent of the nation’s hospitals are (finally) requiring staff to get the vaccine; and over 100 Seattle restaurants and bars are implementing their own policies requiring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test.

Most Colorado eateries haven’t taken a stand yet, so EatDenver, a nonprofit network of independent Denver restaurants, and the Colorado Restaurant Association (CRA), an advocacy group for all Colorado eateries, recently surveyed members about their mask and vaccine policies for employees and staff, and we were intrigued by some of the differences in responses.

EatDenver’s data reflects responses from 120 independent restaurants in the Denver area, and the CRA’s info is based on 148 operators (124 of which are independents) statewide. While the survey questions were different, there were a few data points it was possible to directly compare.

The Takeaways

  • 53 percent of EatDenver’s respondents and just 29 percent of CRA respondents said their unvaxxed employees are required to wear masks. (That might make diners feel slightly safer about eating out in Denver until they realize that nearly half of surveyed restaurants pay anti-vaxxers to breathe on their food and faces.)
  • Well under 10 percent of all restaurants surveyed require staff to get the COVID vaccine.
  • The vast majority of respondents have given up requesting unvaccinated diners wear masks—unsurprising, given the exhausting and potentially lethal job of being the mask enforcer in addition to bartender, server, host, owner, chef.
  • Seven percent of Eat Denver respondents state they require proof of immunization for indoor diners, while just one percent of CRA respondents do.
  • A surprising (to us) 19 percent of EatDenver’s survey participants said they were considering implementing a vaccine requirement for guests without a government mandate, with 27 percent of the CRA’s data set saying the same.
    • Of the eateries that are considering implementing such a policy, both surveys show the vast majority (74 and 77 percent) are concerned about staff having to enforce the rules, which should be a shock to exactly no one.

For more insight, keep reading for the survey summaries, starting with EatDenver’s results.

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