The spread of COVID-19 has forced lawmakers to take various measures to enforce social distancing and help flatten the curve. Rapid shutdowns in cities and states to stem the virus have thrown restaurants and bars across the U.S. into sudden and complete disarray forcing them to either shut down or reduce service to take-out or delivery. Revenue dried up abruptly and restaurant executives tried to manage the resulting chaos. Because of this, many serving industry employees, including bartenders and restaurant workers, have been laid off. According to NPR, the service industry is the country’s second-largest private employer with 15.6 million workers. Now, many are without work, facing a suddenly shaky job market and need financial relief right away.
Thankfully, there are several available resources for bartenders and restaurant workers available to apply for financial aid through non-profit foundation grants, relief programs, donation funds, and/or unemployment insurance. One of the most well-known non-profit organizations is the USBG Bartender Emergency Assistance Program, which provides philanthropic grants to bartenders. A similar option is the Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund, a nationwide community dedicated to the service industry. Simultaneously, state legislators are working on different relief programs for workers, waiting to be approved.
What is unemployment and should I apply?
A valuable resource for bartenders and restaurant workers is unemployment insurance. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, unemployment insurance programs provide unemployment benefits to eligible workers who become unemployed through no fault of their own and meet certain other eligibility requirements. Unemployment insurance is a joint state-federal program that provides cash benefits to eligible workers. Each state administers a separate unemployment insurance program, but all states follow the same guidelines established by federal law.
As stated on the Workplace Fairness site, most states only allow individuals to apply by telephone or online, while some also allow applications to be mailed in. In-person applications have been largely eliminated. Because each state’s application process varies, it is important that you visit your state’s homepage for the most up-to-date requirements.
Grants and relief programs
Many organizations have created grant and relief programs serving as a resource for bartenders and restaurant workers. Amongst the most popular grants is the USBG Bartender Emergency Assistance Program. According to liquor.com, the grant is offered to bartenders affected by the virus without having to be a USBG member to apply. In order to qualify for grant assistance from the Bartender Emergency Assistance Program, the applicant must meet a specific set of requirements and then be submitted to USBG National Charity Foundation’s Grants Committee for review. Grants by the USBG will be awarded by USBG National Charity Foundation’s Grants Committee on an objective and nondiscriminatory basis upon reviewing the application and ascertaining any additional facts and circumstances, as necessary.
For those in the restaurant industry, the Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund is offering grants to individual workers affected by the virus and zero-interest loans to businesses. A similar option is One Fair Wage, which launched an Emergency Fund to provide immediate assistance to restaurant employees. For more information on grants and relief programs see, here.
Alternative jobs for a service industry worker
For individuals who are looking for the best alternative or temporary job where skills as a service industry worker would transfer over, there are a great deal of industries and companies that are staffing up during the COVID-19 pandemic. Right now, many grocery stores, meal-kit companies, pharmacies, healthcare companies, and retail giants like Amazon and Walmart are hiring.
According to CNN, Instacart announced it plans to sign on 300,000 new gig workers to shop and deliver groceries, more than doubling its workforce of independent contractors.Walmart plans to add 150,000 new staffers to warehouses and stores, promising to get some people into new jobs in a matter of hours and Amazon has a similar plan, to hire 100,000 new delivery and warehouse workers in the next few weeks to keep up with a big spike in online shopping. For more information on alternative jobs for a service industry worker please see, here.
Why have states closed restaurants and bars due to COVID-19?
Amid the spread of the novel coronavirus, lawmakers throughout the United States announced measures to enforce social distancing by ordering bars and restaurants to close their doors for extended periods of time. Since then, many states have rolled out stricter orders that advise residents to stay home, except for essential activities, which include picking up medicine, buying food from grocery stores and getting takeout from restaurants. For more information on which states have closed restaurants and bars due to COVID-19, see here.
What is unemployment insurance and who is eligible to apply?
Unemployment insurance is a joint state-federal program that provides cash benefits to eligible workers. State rules determine who qualifies for unemployment; generally, applicants must be out of work through no fault of their own, be able and available to work, and meet the state’s minimum earnings or job tenure requirements to be eligible for benefits. For more information on requirements and how to apply, see here.
What is the USBG Bartender Emergency Assistance Program and who is eligible to apply?
The USBG Bartender Emergency Assistance Program assists qualified bartenders, bar backs, bar servers and other industry professionals in need of financial assistance as a result of a life-changing event or emergency hardship. The BEAP has granted over $100,000 to qualified industry members in need. Applicants do not need to be members of the USBG to apply for grant funds. The applicant must meet a specific set of requirement including but not limited to: be a bartender or the spouse or child of a bartender, experience a catastrophic event or emergency hardship, lack the necessities of life including financial, physical, mental or emotional wee being, and be able to provide tangible documentation of the catastrophic event or hardship. For more information, visit the USBG National Charity Foundation website, here.
Where can I find more information about resources for bartenders and restaurant workers?
For more information surrounding available resources for bartenders and restaurant workers, see here.