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Local business owners implement safety measures following increase in COVID cases

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Posted at 9:00 PM, Jul 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-21 06:06:28-04

SAFETY HARBOR, Fla. — Local business owners have implemented new safety measures as COVID-19 cases increase in Florida.

Rachel Wilson, owner of Gigglewaters in Safety Harbor, said her staff does not have to wear a mask if they are fully vaccinated. Staff wears a pin on their shirt that tells customers they are vaccinated.

"To us, it’s not political at all. I just want my staff to be healthy and safe and we can’t operate as a business if I got half my staff out sick," said Wilson.

Signs on the front door tell customers they may ask their server to wear a mask.

"All they have to do is ask and we’ll grab one right away. We keep a whole stash of them here. I want everyone to feel comfortable and know we take their safety very seriously," said Wilson.

Wilson said she offered incentives to staff who received a vaccine. She also allows them to get vaccinated while on the clock.

"If our staff gets vaccinated, they get a $50 gift card or $20 bucks cash on the spot and they have the option to not wear a mask if they so choose so they just have to have their vaccinated pin," said Wilson.

Other local business owners are making changes to safety measures. Richard Gonzmart, the President and CEO of Columbia Restaurant Group, said staff will be required to wear a mask starting on Tuesday, July 20th.

He stated in a Facebook post, "With COVID Delta variant infection rates rising, the Columbia Restaurant once again will lead our industry when it comes to the safety of our employees and customers."

The post goes on to say, "Of course vaccinations are not a 100 percent guarantee against COVID, especially with the variants. Infections are occurring even to those who have been vaccinated, including to my wife Melanie and me. We recently tested positive even though I received the Pfizer vaccine and Melanie received the Moderna vaccine. But as my doctors told me, those who have received vaccinations are frequently more fortunate and blessed with the difference between life and death. We both recovered over 10 days following receiving antibodies infusion treatment."

This new safety measure for staff includes all 7 Columbia Restaurants and cafes in Tampa, Sarasota, Clearwater Beach, St. Augustine and Celebration, Ulele, Casa Santo Stefano, and Goody Goody in Tampa, and Cha Cha Coconuts in Sarasota.