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City program offers businesses free COVID-19 compliance officers

Jobs pay $15 an hour with no cost to businesses
Published: Aug. 18, 2021 at 5:52 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 18, 2021 at 6:15 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Already stressed staff at hospitality venues began checking vaccination cards and COVID tests in response to a recent mandate in New Orleans. A new city program is in the works to help small businesses stay in compliance.

Even the pandemic couldn’t stop an icon’s return. Co-owner of Morning Call in the Oaks Robert Hennessey said they are excited to be back in the city. “Of course we love our new location in New Orleans and it was good to be back after two years being out of business.”

Just like many small businesses especially bars and restaurants the beignet and coffee staple is just trying to keep up. Hennessey said, “We’re trying to do the right thing. So we just feeling our way through this. Uncharted waters.”

According to Hennessey, most customers are fine with the new vaccination requirement for indoor dining and other activities, but the restaurant experienced one very unruly patron on the first day. “He got very upset with my waiter and asked for all kinds of identification from him and from the manager and it was horrible. All we did was ask a simple question that the mayor wants us to do and it wasn’t good you know. So I mean I don’t know if we should be put in that position.”

Several Louisiana organizations tasked with helping businesses and job seekers hope a new program can help.

Covid relief grants fund personnel to help small business check guest under new rules.
Covid relief grants fund personnel to help small business check guest under new rules.(Job 1)

Sunae Villavaso is the Director of the Mayor’s Office of Work Place Development known as Job One. “On last week we started thinking about how we could assist small businesses,” said Villavaso.

She reached out to other state partners and they organized a program to hire Covid-19 compliance officers.

Businesses can apply to get the employees to help them check guests without additional stress on their current staff. Villavaso said, “It’s a benefit because it’s no cost to the business. It’s helping the job seeker obtain resources and for us hoping to jump-start the economy back hopefully back to where we were pre-pandemic.”

Leonard Zander is the project director with Job One. “We just want to make it happen. We see the need. There’s an opportunity.” According to Zander, the program is attracting a lot of interest from both job seekers and businesses. He said, “We had huge interest with this initiative since its launch.”

Hennessey just learned of the program and could be interested. “So far today you know things are going pretty smoothly, but I can see if we get very busy with my wait staff is busy waiting on multiple customers,” said Hennessey. He just likes to make sure they can offer the same New Orleans hospitality with that document check.

The temporary jobs will pay $15 an hour and the program funded with COVID relief grants has enough money to run through at least the end of the year if necessary.

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