ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — The Columbia Restaurant Group, owners of several traditional Spanish restaurants, will require employees to wear masks again in light of the uptick in coronavirus cases.
The Columbia Restaurant Group owns The Columbia Restaurant, located at 98 St George Street in St. Augustine.
President and CEO Richard Gonzmart told First Coast News he has been following the pandemic on a daily basis and has seen the spike in the delta variant.
Gonzmart says the company will once again require staff to wear masks while working beginning July 20. The company implemented a similar policy for staff after mandated quarantine ended in May 2020.
"It is my responsibility to protect my staff from those who are visiting," Gonzmart said. "So by them wearing a mask, I believe it helps them when they have interaction. I am not requiring our guests to wear a mask at this time. I believe they act responsibly."
Gonzmart said he and his wife were both fully vaccinated, but both contracted COVID-19 around the 4th of July holiday. He took an antibody treatment, and it took him about 10 days to recover.
Gonzmart said he believes having the vaccine saved his life, because "without it the symptoms would have been more severe."
“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," Gonzmart posted on Facebook.
“We are choosing to be proactive for everyone’s health without waiting for a directive from the CDC," he explained. “I also encourage you to seek vaccinations if you are able to do so. As many as 80 percent of those now being hospitalized for infections have not been vaccinated."
The staff has been understanding, Gonzmart said. His message to everyone is to please get vaccinated.
“But as my doctors told me, those who have received vaccinations are frequently more fortunate and blessed with the difference between life and death."