SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Sacramento restaurants were already struggling to stay open due to a staffing shortage, and now the COVID-19 omicron variant is forcing eateries to shutter once again.

COVID had closed restaurants early in the pandemic.

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“It’s heartbreaking, it’s scary,” said Mulvaney’s B&L owner, Patrick Mulvaney.

Workers turned to unemployment benefits for help and when it was time, restaurant owners asked them to come back. It was a tough sell with the never-ending restaurant whiplash.

“People are scared, too, to come back,” Mulvaney said.

Things were starting to get back to normal for Mulvaney until he said his staff was hit by the newest variant.

“New Year’s Eve, we all tested before dinner started and we were 100% negative, and then the next few days, a couple people became sick,” he said. “We said ‘OK, if the curve is going like this, as much as we hate it, two years into this darn thing it’s time to say let’s take a week off and reassess.’ ”

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Mulvaney isn’t the only restaurant owner closing down. Various other Sacramento restaurants are making the tough decision to close voluntarily.

 “If you do it quickly, then it makes things get better faster,” Mulvaney said.

Just days into 2022, restaurants still struggling with a staffing shortage are concerned omicron will hit the few employees they have left.

“We don’t really have the staff,” said Taylor Henak, general manager of Beast and Bounty.

Henak said Beast and Bounty is closing its doors “out of extreme precaution.”

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“Right as we’re about to do this relaunch [and] get back to the Beast and Bounty we once were, this new variant hit,” Henak said, who said it’s better to close now to avoid closing for good. “Ideally, we’ll go back to indoor dining.”