Virus surge and staffing shortages lead to tough holiday weekend for some businesses |

Virus surge and staffing shortages lead to tough holiday weekend for some businesses

Other businesses impacted by Marshall Fire power outage or evacuations

A family walks past Modis on Main Street in Breckenridge on Sunday, Jan. 2. Modis was busy over New Year’s weekend, and the restaurant was short staffed after two employees tested positive for the coronavirus and couldn't work.
Lindsey Toomer/Summit Daily News

Summit County’s surge in omicron cases amid the peak holiday season couldn’t have come at a worse time for local businesses. With staffing shortages and a new mask mandate, the past of couple weekends haven’t gone as smoothly as some would have hoped.

While some businesses have been forced to close because too many employees were sick, others limited their services and changed some operations in an attempt to make the holidays go more smoothly.

Vail Resorts spokesperson Sara Lococo wrote in an email that one of the biggest challenges the resorts are experiencing is daily staffing impacts due to employees having cold or flu-like symptoms. Even though all Vail Resorts employees are required to be vaccinated, Lococo said its ski resorts are encouraging anyone who is sick to stay home, and staff has been doing a good job of following the rule.

“But on the flip side, it means we are seeing and experiencing operational impacts on the mountain at a higher rate than expected due to the omicron variant,” Lococo wrote. “This is part of the reason you may see certain lifts or areas of terrain not open yet, retail stores closed or slimmed down options in (food and beverage) outlets.”

Lococo said Vail’s first priority is to keep its guests and employees safe, which is why it has required masks indoors throughout the pandemic and recently required masks on gondolas again.

Teryn Guadagnoli, owner of Modis in Breckenridge, said her restaurant has been understaffed unrelated to COVID-19 but that it got worse when two staff members tested positive as the holidays rolled around. She said she thinks her general staffing problems have more to do with housing than with the virus.

“Even being down two people when we’re short staffed is really tough this time of year,” Guadagnoli said. “I think that it was probably one of the most stressful New Year’s weeks we’ve had.”

On top of having two employees out with COVID-19, Guadagnoli said one of her chefs had to evacuate their home in Boulder County on Dec. 30 due to the Marshall Fire, leaving the kitchen with only two cooks to make 200 to 250 meals that night.

While the restaurant was still busy over the holidays, Guadagnoli said many guests canceled their reservations for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day after learning about the county’s mask mandate.

“I sent out texts to all of our guests on the 30th and 31st and got a lot of people who were really upset that we would even send anything out telling them about the mask mandate,” Guadagnoli said.

Guadagnoli praised her team for their work to get through the holidays despite the challenges. She said while there were definitely moments of panic, she is grateful they worked so hard to pull the holiday weekend off.

“I have a very seasoned staff and a lot of people that have been with me for a long time, so they’ve done a lot of holidays for me,” Guadagnoli said. “I think a lot of them are sleeping today.”

Chris Carran, owner of Locals Liquors in Silverthorne, said she had her staff wear masks starting Dec. 27 because of the long lines she was seeing at local testing centers. She said she hasn’t had any staffing issues due to COVID-19 cases but that enforcing the new mask mandate has been difficult in a few situations.

“We obviously followed mandates on the 31st, and we just had a couple of customers that were super nasty,” Carran said. “But other than that, everybody’s been super good and complied and understood where we’re at and what we’re trying to do here.”

Carran added that Locals Liquors was doing well through the holidays until it lost power Thursday, Dec. 30, due to the Marshall Fire in Boulder County.

Guadagnoli said she has remained vigilant about enforcing pandemic protocols at Modis, too, and encouraged folks to order at-home tests from the state’s health department. She said having them on hand has been helpful to make sure her employees are healthy.

Assistant Breckenridge Town Manager Shannon Haynes said the town moved its staff back to remote work once it saw a significant rise in cases after Christmas and that some town staff members have tested positive for COVID-19. She said the town is continuing to run its operations with some reductions, including reduced hours at the Stephen C. West Ice Arena and shortened hours for the Purple B Breck Free Ride bus route.

Haynes said the town will continue monitoring the virus situation weekly, determining next steps based on its community prevalence.

“It is really important to remind people to expect staffing shortages, to follow the public health order and wear a mask in all indoor public spaces — including on transit and at recreation facilities — and to treat staff with kindness,” Haynes wrote in an email. “I don’t think we can stress those points enough.”

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