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Restaurant, Bar Staff Prepare To File For Unemployment Again As COVID-19 Indoor Dining Bans Go Into Effect

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Illinois is one of only a handful of states reporting a jump in jobless claims with a 13% increase from the week before. Nearly 2 million people have filed for unemployment in Illinois since early March, and there is no doubt that servers and bar staff are going to add to those numbers as COVID-19 indoor dining bans take effect. For some of them it won't be the first time they have been laid off this year.

"It was basically sadness," waiter Shaun Wilson said, knowing that waiting tables at Soul Shack in Chicago's Hyde Park will not be happening starting Friday. "I took satisfaction. I took a certain amount of pride in being able to provide for my kids, and now that's in question."

Wilson joins many at the restaurant weighing options.

"Definitely filing unemployment and maybe work in another industry," he said.

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This will be his second time filing for unemployment but says he cannot rely on anything soon. When most of Illinois goes under the indoor dining ban he expects a backup as thousands more people like him file for funds.

"A tremendous amount of them are in the front of the house. Waiters, bartenders, bar backs," said Scott Weiner of Fifty/50 Group.

Weiner owns the restaurant group that expects to furlough 65% of managers and 80% of hourly employees. Only about 120 employees will be left on payroll, compared to 450 on the last one. This comes as the industry is still reeling from a shutdown in March.

"This (shutdown) is harder because I knew in March there was federal help for all the people getting furloughed," Weiner said.

Gov. JB Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot are pushing small businesses to apply for financial aid. The first round of a grant program from the state dished out $49 million to about 2,800 businesses.

Another round of $220 million is expected to be distributed, leaving many to wonder if it will help them.

And no one knows how long the dining ban will last. It's a huge factor that will play into even more possible layoffs.


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