Workers in the Restaurant Industry Face Uncertainty due to COVID-19

By Rebecca Rodriguez (rar270@txstate.edu)

In March of 2020, the United States began to feel the impact of a deadly virus. There were shutdowns all across the country which resulted in massive layoffs. The restaurant industry in particular took a devastating hit. 

Those who were able to keep their jobs did not return to work in good spirits. There was so much the US did not know about the virus, it was impossible to feel safe at an establishment where there are different people coming and going each day. 

Texas State senior and microbiology student, Britney Reese, was among the lucky percent of the population that were able to keep their jobs. Reese has worked at Chick-fil-A for a few years now, but ultimately decided she would feel safer not going into work until the city of San Marcos felt like it had some sense of control over the virus. Her hope to return to normalcy gradually diminished as it became evident that would not be happening any time soon. 

“I didn’t want to go back. I felt so much safer at home but at the end of the day, I had to pay rent,” said Reese. 

She continued, “I hated leaving my parents and my little brothers back home but it was safer for them if I just stayed in my apartment.” 

While Reese is definitely not the only one to be concerned about their safety, there are others that have managed to feel secure at their job. 

An anonymous Pluckers Wing Bar employee explained how much better the restaurant has become at ensuring their staff’s safety. 

“I was a little scared [at first] because at the time, Pluckers had no idea what they were going to do…for the first two weeks we weren’t even wearing gloves or masks,” explained the source. 

As time went on, the famous wing bar was able to implement new protocols such as face masks, gloves, and routine sanitations.  

“As we started [enforce] more rules, I did feel a lot safer and I feel completely safe now,” said the Pluckers employee. 

The employee was sure to mention why they kept working even with so much uncertainty when COVID-19 first hit the United States. 

“I pay my own bills. I could not afford to not come to work,” they said. 

A common theme between both Reese and the Pluckers employee was their reliance on their job as their main source of income.  

Many other restaurant employees rely on their jobs to help them maintain living expenses whether that be rent, groceries, etc. While many Americans were able to obtain a $1,200 stimulus check in April, they are still forced to choose between personal safety and their ability to afford to live.

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