Chipotle’s CEO Brian Niccol recently told Bloomberg News that the chain has seen shortages in staff at some of its restaurants in the last few months because employees have become ill with coronavirus.
In the interview, Niccol explained that employees being exposed to COVID-19 has made staffing more difficult, and that he does not expect things to get any easier.
“When employees start coming down with COVID at these high percentages, it just makes staffing much more challenging than what it was six months ago,” Niccol told the outlet: “The coming months I think are going to be even more challenging from a staffing standpoint.”
Niccol clarified that Chipotle has kept the infection rate of employees “below the national average in a meaningful way” and has told staffers that he believes that masks and social distancing will likely continue “well into” next year.
Chipotle expanded upon his statements in a statement to Restaurant Business Online:
“The health and safety of our employees and guests is our top priority,” Chipotle’s chief corporate affairs and food safety officer Laurie Schalow told the outlet:
With more restrictions being instituted due to rising cases of COVID-19 across the country, we’re seeing a very small number of restaurants impacted by available labor. Therefore, we’ve had to adjust hours or close for a limited period of time when staff from neighboring locations was unavailable.
Restaurant Business added that when Applebee’s franchisee Wisconsin Apple recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, it cited, in part, its challenges keeping restaurants open following COVID-19 cases amongst its employees, and the lengthy sanitation processes that follow. COVID-19 cases continue to climb in America, topping 90,000 new cases on November 3, which was the most recent tally available at the time of this writing.
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