Manitobans are continuing their efforts to flatten the curve of COVID-19, meaning they’re staying in and not eating out.
Physical distancing measures and quarentining have made it challenging for people who work in the restaurant industry.
As more and more people in the industry get laid off, many are concerned they won’t be able to cover their living expenses with E.I. alone.
Tony Siwicki is the Chairman of the Manitoba Restaurant and Food Association – he said right now, restaurants are struggling.
“Restaurant owners and managers and servers are all asking that same question, what do we do in the time being,” said Siwicki.
Siwicki said servers in the industry are struggling as well. Without tips, many are concerned about their financial future.
“To rely on just their wages, you know, that’s not why they came into this industry,” said Siwicki.
Steven Kuzyk is a server at Montana’s BBQ and Bar. He said he was laid off due to concerns over COVID-19.
He said servers live off of their tips, and he doesn’t believe E.I. will cover his cost of living.
“Even if you were paid 100-percent of your hourly wage, on E.I., it’s still not what makes it for servers,” Kuzyk said.
Kuzyk is putting himself through school and said he might have to rely on family and other sources for financial support.
“You can’t go work,” he said. “It’s not like, okay, I’ve been laid off from my job, I can go somewhere else. No one is going to be hiring at this point, so everyone is affected by this.”
Some servers in Winnipeg were provided with financial support on their way out.
Marielle Sanness is a server at The Keg Steakhouse. She was also laid off, but The Keg didn’t send her home empty-handed.
“They’re also providing us with some financial compensation,” Sanness said, “To help us in the transition of moving from working to not working.”
She said everyone at The Keg is getting compensation; it will vary depending on whether you’re on salary or paid by the hour.
“It’s definitely providing a bit of a cushion for us all,” said Sanness.
Siwicki said he doesn’t have a perfect answer for what restaurants and servers should do during this challenging period.
“It’s a time thing,” said Siwicki, “We’re watching the news, we’re watching the globe.”