LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — For business owners fortunate enough to keep their doors open throughout the pandemic, the fifth surge brings a fresh slate of concerns.

Spanning over the greater part of the last two years, the Coronavirus pandemic has run its course worldwide, shutting down not just thousands of businesses, but entire countries.

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With the Omicron variant taking hold, businesses are now feeling the affects of yet another surge, this time with shocking rates of staff shortages. Due to the high-transmissibility of the variant, the virus is much more contractable and businesses have begun to notice the impact.

Businesses in the Southland have been forced to shut their doors once again, but not due to mandatory lockdowns like last time. This time around, many are opting to close their doors temporarily as employees continue to call out of shifts at an alarming rate.

Lala’s Argentine Grill in Studio City is one of those businesses feeling the impact of the fifth surge, as they’ve noticed a rapid increase in employees being forced to miss shifts due to Coronavirus. According to Carlos Chacoma, a manger at Lala’s, “In two years of the pandemic, we’ve only had two guys who were sick. Now in the last ten days we already have six.” Like many, he’s left wondering what to do to save face, “Right now, we have one guy who called in this morning. We’re probably going to face another two or three in the next week or so,” Chacoma said, “So we’re just thinking what we can do in the next few days.”

On top of the recent surge, businesses everywhere are already scrambling to find a full staff as it stands. Spurred by “The Great Resignation,” a term referencing the mass trend of employees leaving their jobs in 2021 in search of higher wages and better careers, “Help Wanted” and “Now Hiring” signs have hung in windows for months now.

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While some have just opted to close until enough staff is able to return, other owners are taking the matter into their own hands, and hopping back into the workforce.

EZ Plumbing is one of those enterprises, as employee Sophia Avedian told CBS reporters, “There have been times where we have to have the owners go and perform the labor, as we are short staffed and there’s not enough plumbers willing to work at this time.”

Avedian continued to report that while in the past, applications were numbered in the hundreds, the company is now having a hard time finding applicants for any of their open positions. “We’ve previously had 50 to 100 applicants applying, now we’re down to a good 15 to 20.”

It isn’t just hitting small businesses either, as beginning on Christmas Eve, airlines worldwide began a trend of cancellations. Now, weeks later and thousands of flights have been cancelled — all due to inadequate numbers of employees to fill shifts.

The California Retailers Association detailed that this is just one more thing they’re taking into consideration as they’re looking for more ways to push funding for smaller businesses and retailers to keep them afloat.

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“It’s a challenge, we already had some staffing shortages prior to this, and now this is another frustration,” said Rachel Michelin with the California Retailers Association. She doesn’t put all the blame on the workers though, saying that customers need to do their part to keep the small business economy alive, “If you’re going to go out and shop, think about those small businesses. They’re the community that you live in – they’re the backbone of your neighborhoods.”