BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- For some workers in the service industry, it can make more sense for them to stay at home amid the coronavirus pandemic rather than go back to work since they are making more money now on unemployment.
Out-of-work Americans welcomed the financial relief brought on by the Paycheck Protection Program when President Trump signed the CARES Act into law in late March, but now they're running into a tricky decision: go back to work and make less money or stay at home and make more on unemployment.
"Why would you come back to work when you can make more money staying at home?" Patrick Russell, the owner of Kooper's Tavern in Fells Point, wondered.
Russell owns multiple businesses and said he qualified for funds through the program but his restaurants remain empty due to the state's stay-at-home order. That means no tips for his servers, busboys or bartenders who rely on them.
"When you go from doing millions of dollars in business to nothing, we are all in the same boat," he said.
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A nail technician told WJZ she's getting a fraction of her base salary from her employer, and because of that, she no longer qualifies for federal unemployment. Despite that, she's still not able to go into work to make tips.
"We are kind of in that catch 22, we can't quit because then we won't receive unemployment at all, and I won't get paid PPP; however, I remain employed, I am not receiving the $600, so it's really frustrating," she said.
Russell believes the first steps to recover will be to partially reopen.
"As we are able to grow that I'll bring more people back, but the idea is to make sure that when they come back, they can make more than what they are getting from the PPP, and until I can guarantee that, they are not going to want to come back," he said.
Restaurant owners in Fells Point are pushing the city to close part of Thames Street to allow them to put tables outside and serve more customers while following social distancing guidelines.
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