‘Like a big game of Jenga,’ businesses continue to wrestle with staffing issues amid Omicron surge

Published: Jan. 10, 2022 at 9:24 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 10, 2022 at 9:49 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) -For almost two years, Mardi Gras gear has sat in the backs of closets, and with 2022, it’s time for a refresher.

“We’re we are ordering like there is going to be a Mardi Gras. We’re very hopeful. And fortunately, here at Fleurty girl, we managed to remain open, but it’s been challenging,” said owner, Lauren Haydel.

With everything purple, green, and gold in high demand, Haydel says this omicron surge has been one of the most difficult to navigate when it comes to staffing. She says the CDC’s shortened quarantine guidelines only gave some relief.

“Out of 60 employees, 40 percent have gotten it. So, it’s really kind of spreading. So logistically, it’s been challenging… it really is like a big game of Jenga, you know, you got to put it all in figures figure it out and try not to come crashing down,” said Haydel.

Occasionally they will shuffle staffing to different stores. But Haydel knows not all businesses have that luxury.

“If you have an outbreak at one location. That’s your entire staff. You can’t open I’ve seen restaurants that closed it’s so sad, but thankfully we’ve been able to utilize our staff of employees so hopefully our doors can remain open,” said Haydel.

“This is the situation that we’re living in right now. And people are adjusting businesses are adjusting in some way. It’s been two years of adjustment,” said Jefferson Parish councilman, Scott Walker.

After seeing some rolling closures and shortened business hours, Walker says the economic impact is either low at this point, or not fully realized.

“Jefferson Parish really hasn’t seen sales tax numbers drop we’re up 20% year to year but individual cases you can see that the impact is there. But that’s not affecting the big picture yet hopefully doesn’t affect the big picture, but we know there are those pockets of problems in the parish where small businesses are struggling,” said Walker.

Walker says they’ll continue to support business owners and workers, hoping residents continue to have patience as well.

“People have different beliefs about different ways things should be done. But overall, we’re all in this thing together. And we want to get out of this together,” said Walker.

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