Working in pandemic has employees concerned about work conditions

Coronavirus New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Working in a pandemic is unlike anything many workers have seen before. From safety protocols to the risk of being shut down if one person tests positive, it’s forcing coworkers to trust each other to be safe when off the clock.

Employers can do all they can to implement COVID-19 safe practices but they can’t control their employees’ behavior outside of work, which is a concern to some workers.

“Oh definitely. I mean, I think it’s just hard. You just don’t know what they’re doing. So, yeah, that’s definitely a concern,” Bethany Villarreal, a worker in Albuquerque said. “But, I think just making sure everyone comes to work just not feeling symptoms, double-checking their temperatures and stuff like that, definitely makes us feel a little bit safer.”

“If somebody’s going out of town to like LA or one of the super hot spots, you know, that should be a thing the workplace should know just so that you don’t cause a big outbreak because we’re the people making food on the frontline,” Devon VanLeeuwen, a worker in Albuquerque said.

The KRQE News 13 newsroom gets many emails with employees sharing that their coworkers are not following COVID-safe practices when they’re off duty. One woman claims three employees of the Starbucks at 4101 Coors Blvd Northwest in Albuquerque were partying and posting videos on social media before coming down with coronavirus.

On Monday, July 20, the Starbucks store on Coors was closed but Starbucks did not return KRQE’s calls. This affects customers too.

“Yeah, that’s very concerning to me that people can be out partying or gathering in large groups and then coming and serving us food,” Rebecca Lilley of Albuquerque, said. “Being an essential worker, having to go in and interact with the public, I feel for them, they’re putting themselves sort of on the line and they’re trusting us to stay healthy for them. And I would just hope they’re willing to do the same and stay healthy to kind of protect us. Right now, it’s a community thing and we all need to chip in and do our best.”

The Sadie’s of New Mexico on 4th Street is also closed for ‘COVID screenings,’ according to a sign posted on the building. An employee claims workers were rushed out on Saturday to close early. She said they later got an email from the company saying a staff member at that location tested positive for the virus, had mild symptoms, and that the building needed to be cleaned. The email also recommended that employees quarantine until they receive a negative COVID-19 test.

Sadie’s said the 4th street location will be closed until it is safe but did not give an exact date. When asked if employees are getting paid, the company said, “We will be following all FFCRA requirements as far as pay goes during this time.”

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