Restaurant hosts are on the frontline of the Covid culture wars

Restaurant hosts are on the frontlines of the Covid culture wars, reports Priya Krishna in The New York Times. Once seen as a somewhat glamorous industry position, hosts now perform unenviable tasks like asking customers to wear masks, observe social distancing, or present proof of vaccination. Many hosts are young women earning entry-level wages and lack the support to verify vaccination cards or cope with impatient and increasingly angry customers; in recent weeks, hosts were physically attacked after trying to enforce Covid-19 guidelines at restaurants in Louisiana and New York. Moreover, staffing shortages in restaurants have forced many hosts to take on additional duties such as clearing tables. These challenges are compounded by low industry pay—the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in 2020 that the average annual pay for hosts was $24,800. Not a surprise that many hosts are leaving the industry for better-paying and less stressful jobs.