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Emergency Cash Available For Tipped Workers As Restaurants Close To Stop Coronavirus Spread

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Restaurant workers, delivery drivers and other tipped workers can now receive emergency cash if affected by the coronavirus.

The One Fair Wage campaign has launched an emergency cash relief fund and is offering $213 in cash for any tipped worker affected after some states including Illinois temporarily shut down bars and restaurants to stop the spread of the virus. The organization is also seeking donations to help fund the effort. 

RELATED: Gov. Pritzker Announces Closure Of All Illinois Bars And Restaurants By End Of Day Monday Due To Coronavirus Crisis

Illinois tipped workers receive a minimum wage of $5.55 an hour, leaving much of their income to be made up by tips.

"This global health crisis for all of us is also an acute economic crisis for tipped workers and service workers," said Saru Jayaraman, co-founder and president of One Fair Wage. "These are the workers who have trouble making ends meet in good times. In hard times like this, they need our help. We're hoping to raise as much money as possible to give as many workers as possible cash assistance of $213," said Jayaraman. "We chose that amount as a nod to the horrific $2.13 federal sub-minimum wage for tipped workers."

In Illinois restaurants and bars were closed Monday after an announcement from Gov. JB Pritzker. The closure is currently set to last through March 30. Pritzker said the state was looking at ways to keep restaurant kitchens open, so that restaurants can continue food delivery to people's homes. Drive-through and curbside pickup service from restaurants will be allowed to continue.

Illinois Restaurant Association President and Chief Executive Officer Sam Toia said the safety and health of customers and team members needs to come first.

"The Illinois Restaurant Association will continue to act on behalf of economic relief for our employees and our small businesses," Toia said. "It is the number one concern of the restaurateur to make sure his or her team members get their paychecks."

But in food and entertainment districts such as River North, the hit is extraordinary. Those in the restaurant and bar community said some venues will close down for good because of this, while others are scrambling to make ends meet.

In response to restaurateurs' concerns, the governor's office referred CBS 2 to a March 11 statement that includes saying they are working to help with unemployment, asking Congress to waive interest on federal loans and implementing state Disaster Relief Fund assistance.

Information on the emergency fund and how to donate can be found here.

Eligible workers will be screened in phone interviews and any additional unused funds will be spent on tipped worker organizing and advocacy, according to a release from the campaign, which is part of Alliance for a Just Society.

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