PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Ellie Tallmage said things were starting to feel more like normal when restaurants in Multnomah County were able to reopen at 50% capacity.
“We got 6 feet, we all wear masks, we sanitize everything,” she told KOIN 6 News.
But earlier in the week, when she was focused on work at Fields Bar and Grill and getting her son into surgery for another operation on his cleft lip, the news hit: Multnomah County was rolled back into the High Risk category.
“It’s like a roller coaster ride. One day everything is OK and then the next it’s just, like, taken out from underneath you,” she said.
She was shocked when Gov. Kate Brown announced both Multnomah and Clackamas counties would move back into the High Risk level with tighter restrictions. The change is having a serious impact on those who have already struggled financially during the pandemic.
“I was angry and very upset and very, just, caught off guard,” Tallmage told KOIN 6 News. “We’ve gotten into such a better place and especially, like, in the restaurant industry, we were starting to feel a little bit more normal again. And we’ve taken such a hard hit since all of this started and it’s just crazy to me that once again it’s restaurants that are going to have to take that hard hit.”
Brown said Friday she wasn’t going to reconsider the latest round of restaurant and bar rollbacks despite the increasing number of people getting vaccinated.
“I think the short answer is no and the reason is, we have a number of variants,” Brown said. “The California variants are 20% more transmissible. I heard the UK variants and other variants are up to 50% to 70 % more transmissible These viruses are still in our community. Until we have strong community immunity, we are going to have to keep these protections in place to protect our most vulnerable Oregonians — our elders, our communities of color, our vulnerable populations.”
Tallmage said she’s applied for unemployment 3 times already during the pandemic.
“Any other bartender and server I know is constantly worried about, ‘Is my income going to be there tomorrow or is it going to be gone?’ It’s like you’re in fear of it at this point,” she said.
Tallmage hopes the restrictions lift quickly so she doesn’t have to take on debt, something she was getting away from before the rollbacks began.
“It impacts my son’s life, it impacts my money and it impacts the wedding that I’m supposed to be planning,” she said.
“But now that I’m in good standing it’s again going to go back to, ‘What about tomorrow?’ Am I going to make enough money for this, this and then, when we just got in a good place, I was off of unemployment. Less stress. Then it was a slap to the face. ‘Oops, sorry. Your happiness is going to go down the drain again.'”