‘Are we actually making a difference?’ Restaurant owners question need for proof of vaccine
Some Downtown restaurant owners are hoping city leaders will consider removing one part of a COVID-19 emergency order they say is not only unfair but doing them more harm than good.
At issue is the burden placed on restaurant employees by requiring them to check potential diners’ vaccination status before eating inside. The rules, which the City Council will review during a regular meeting on Thursday, went into place in August. They are the strictest in the Coachella Valley.
“Is it right to put this on the restaurant industry alone, and only the restaurant industry in Palm Springs?” asked Willie Rhine, co-owner of Eight4Nine Restaurant & Lounge and 1501 Uptown Gastropub, during Tuesday’s Main Street Palm Springs meeting, held via Zoom. “It becomes tiring. It becomes difficult. It becomes challenging.
“Are we actually making a difference? I would love for somebody to be able to answer that.”
Rhine and others pointed to the recent report of a restaurant employee who was attacked in South Palm Springs after asking a patron to show proof of vaccination. They hope that removing the vaccination requirement would not simply encourage more diners but lessen the burdens on their employees and decrease the chance a similar incident would occur in their establishments.
“We’re not opposed to the masks,” said Mindy Reed, owner of Zin American Bistro and Revel Public House, referring to another mandate currently in place. “People aren’t shocked by that, and they aren’t rebuffing them like they did last summer. However, with the vaccinations, putting that all on restaurants and no other business, it’s definitely not fair.
“If that was really making a difference, then Palm Springs’ numbers should be a fourth or a third or a tenth of Palm Desert or La Quinta. Are their numbers that radically different than ours?”
A case report for the week ending December 6 reflects 64 cases of COVID-19 were reported in Palm Springs, compared to 76 in Palm Desert and 51 in La Quinta. Those numbers may not be radically different than Palm Springs’, but given the weekend population surge in the city, they could be evidence the more restrictive rules are making a difference.
Greg Rodriguez, government relations and public policy advisor for Riverside County Supervisor V. Manuel Perez, said the city recently saw a “pretty significant increase” in the disease in samples taken from wastewater. That’s despite the fact the full-time population is among the most vaccinated in all of the county.
“There’s no need for panic, but there is the need to stay vigilant,” Rodriguez said.
Mayor Pro Tem Lisa Middleton, who will be appointed mayor at the same meeting the COVID-19 restrictions are discussed, promised that vigilance would continue. She “took a page worth of notes” as the restaurant owners were speaking, though, and promised “a very robust conversation” Thursday evening.
“What I heard today is similar to what I see in my inbox of emails and the comments I’m getting on the street,” Middleton said. “There are those who are really tired and don’t believe they are making a difference and those who are really frightened as to the health implications of being around someone who is unmasked and unvaccinated.
“Those who are not vaccinated and are refusing to be vaccinated are putting all of us at greater risk. I don’t know what it’s going to take to see change. Even an increase in death rates seems not to be having an impact. There are over 700,000 people in our country who are dead, including some friends of all of ours.”
POLICE AND FIRE HONORED: Hundreds of the men and women who put their lives at risk to protect Palm Springs were honored and awarded at the city’s convention center Tuesday during the 10th annual Police & Fire Appreciation Luncheon organized by the Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce. Chamber CEO Nona Watson said 300 guests attended the event, which was not held last year due to COVID-19 restrictions. During the invocation, Deputy Fire Chief Jason Loya noted that during the past year, “It is with awe as we watch us as human beings persevere. …We don’t do this alone. We do this together. We are so grateful for those who lay down their lives to protect us.”
HOTEL REIMBURSED: Riverside County supervisors on Tuesday authorized $6 million to pay nearly two dozen hotels and motels countywide that participated in the Project Roomkey program initiated in 2020 to place transients facing COVID-19 exposure risks. One was located in Palm Springs. In a 5-0 vote without comment, the Board of Supervisors directed Emergency Management Department Director Bruce Barton to honor the voucher program, covering the period May to December 2020. A total of 23 hotels and motels were listed in county documents, and the largest sum owed is $760,762, which will be distributed to the Quality Inn of Palm Springs. Each hotel and motel taking part in the program was required to set flat rates for space provided to Roomkey recipients, most of whom were homeless. All the funds paid out to the hotels and motels will be drawn from federal disbursements to the county as part of fiscal relief packages.
MIZELL EVENTS: The Mizell Center, 480 S. Sunrise Way, offers a bereavement support group, a knitting circle, chair yoga, Spanish and more, starting at 8 AM. A complete list of everything offered can be found online here.
SUNSHINE SISTERS: The Palm Springs Sunshine Sisters has two events planned for today. Group members will be hiking at Indian Canyons starting at 8 AM and host a happy hour at Palm Canyon Roadhouse at 5:30 PM. You can sign up to be part of the group — formed to help women make new connections and friendships — on Meetup here.
MOBILE HEALTH: A mobile health clinic will be parked at the James O. Jesse Desert Highland Unity Center, 480 W. Tramview Rd., from 9 AM until 4 PM. Operated and staffed by Borrego Health, the mobile unit will provide various medical services for residents.
ADULT CRAFTS: The Palm Springs Public Library invites adults to make a fun and easy bottlecap snowman ornament to keep or give away. You can pick up a craft kit at the library today (while supplies last) and watch the how-to video on YouTube starting at 10 AM. The library is located at 300 South Sunrise Way.
HORA DE CUENTOS: La bibliotecaria Nancy Valdivia lee cuentos, canta canciones y enseña conceptos de aprendizaje temprano (miércoles en español y jueves en inglés) para estudiantes de preescolar de 10:30 AM a 11:30 AM Puedes ver los videos en YouTube aquí.
WARWICK STAR: Singer Dionne Warwick will be honored with the 447th star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars at 11 AM. Warwick, 80, started her career in 1961 after being discovered by the songwriting team of Burt Bacharach and Hal David. The ceremony will be held at the intersection of Tahquitz Canyon and South Palm Canyon Drive in front of the Welwood Murray Memorial Library. Nona Watson, CEO of the Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce, will emcee the event and introduce the guest speakers.
PICTURES WITH SANTA: Make an appointment, dress in your holiday best, and bring your camera to have your picture taken with Santa at the Palm Springs Public Library today. A festive backdrop will be provided to allow for appropriate social distancing. Appointments will be available from 3 PM until 6 PM and can be made by going to this site online. The library is located at 300 South Sunrise Way.
PALS CAFE: PALS (Planning Ahead for LGBTQ Seniors) holds an informal drop-in discussion via Zoom about any topic on the minds of participants from 4 PM until 5 PM. The organization is a volunteer-led community initiative based in Palm Springs that helps LGBTQ+ adults and friends plan ahead before a health or other life-altering situation arises. More information about the organization can be found here. To participate in the discussion, check out the Zoom link here.
PLANNING COMMISSION: The Palm Springs Planning Commission meets at 5:30 PM via Zoom. A complete agenda, viewing and participation instructions are available here.
CELEBRATE KWANZAA: Palm Springs Black History Committee is hosting a Kwanzaa celebration this evening at Desert Springs Middle School in Desert Hot Springs. The events begins at 5:30 PM. The school is located at 66755 Two Bunch Palms Trail. More information about the event is available by calling 760-323-8271.
Palm Springs comes alive in December with events for all ages and all tastes. The Post has put together a list of those events, organized by category, from reader submissions. Click here for the complete list. Want your event included? If it’s happening in Palm Springs, or involves a Palm Springs-based organization or business, Email [email protected]
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
SOUND OF MUSIC: Palm Canyon Theatre’s staging of “The Sound of Music” runs Thursdays through Sundays until December 19. Showtimes are 7 PM on Thursdays, 8 PM on Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 PM on Sundays. For tickets or other information, call the PCT Box Office at 760-323-5123 or order online at PalmCanyonTheatre.org. Tickets are $36 for adults, $32 for seniors, and $15.00 for students and children. The theater is located at 538 North Palm Canyon Drive.
BALLROOM BASH: Palm Springs Dance Academy is hosting “Palm Springs Ballroom Bash” on December 12, starting at 2:30 PM. Attendees can participate in a night club 2-step holiday variations class, a social dance “practice party,” and then watch a professional performance by Curtis & Beverly. The event will be held at the academy, located at 611 South Palm Canyon Dr., Suite 12. Tickets include a welcome drink and may be purchased at nickersonrossidance.com.
MARTINIS AND MOXIE: The final “Martinis and Moxie” of the season is December 12 at Palm Springs Cultural Center, 2300 E Baristo Rd. The event begins at 6 PM with a society social. Attendees are invited to come raise a drink to celebrate the birthday of the “Chairman of the Board,” Frank Sinatra. They can also enjoy swingin’ discussions about Frank’s life in the Coachella Valley hosted by Claudia Ried and Conrad Angel Corral of Palm Springs Point of View. In addition, special surprise guests (many of whom knew Frank) will be there, and an all-new art exhibition by local artist Kasey Scott-Brown is planned. Tickets start at $45 and are available here.
STRUT AWARDS VOTING: Voting has started for the STRUT Awards, slated to be handed out next week in Palm Springs. The STRUT Awards are a people’s choice voting event designed to honor members of the local LGBTQ+ industry. Nominations were accepted in more than two dozen categories, and now it’s time to vote. You can do that by going here. Winners will be announced and celebrated on December 12 during an event at Margaritaville Palm Springs beginning at 6 PM. Tickets for the event can be purchased here.
NEXT SPEAKER IN SERIES: Mizell Center presents sound bath master Lisa Botts, in conversation with Maria Sesito, senior issues reporter with The Desert Sun, at its next 3rd Wednesday Speaker Series event, held December 15 starting at 6 PM. Together they will explore the origins, growth and appreciation of sound baths – a deeply immersive sound experience that delivers you to a fully relaxed state of ease. The free introductory experience is designed to engage participants, particularly older adults, who are new to the sound bath experience. Please be certain to wear comfortable clothing. Guests are asked to bring a yoga mat or blanket. To register for the free events, go here. Mizell Center is located at 480 South Sunrise Way.
MOBILE CHRISTMAS: Well in the Desert is again planning its annual Christmas event as a mobile event due to COVID-19 restrictions. The drive-up event will be held Saturday, December 18, from 11:30 AM until 3 PM at The United Methodist Church, 1555 East Alejo Rd. Volunteers will distribute a frozen turkey and pie, as well as gifts for children to open on Christmas Day, to any family in need. Donations can be dropped off at churches where The Well serves hot meals, between 11 AM and 1 PM: Mondays and Tuesdays: United Methodist, 1555 East Alejo Rd.; Wednesdays: Church of St. Paul’s, 125 West El Alameda; Thursdays: Our Lady of Solitude, 151 West Alejo Rd.; and Fridays: Our Lady of Guadalupe, 204 South Calle El Segundo.