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After Nikolas Vegenas, a bartender at Apotheke in Chinatown and Bar Meridian in Brooklyn, examined optimistic for the virus in mid-December, he tried to use for unemployment advantages each over the cellphone and on-line. The web site “was supercomplicated,” he stated. “I referred to as them and waited on the cellphone, they usually stated I didn’t qualify.”

Requested whether or not restaurant employees who take a look at optimistic for the virus are eligible for unemployment, a spokesman for New York State stated: “Unemployment determinations are made on a case-by-case foundation, however restaurant employees are eligible for unemployment underneath the identical requirements as each different employee.”

However Ms. Jayaraman famous that the state’s eligibility requirements for unemployment embrace being “prepared, keen and ready” to work, in line with the New York labor division website, and specify that “you could not file for every week once you work greater than 30 hours or earn greater than $504 gross pay between Monday and Sunday.” This may make it troublesome for anybody in isolation for only a week or so to qualify as “ready” to work, or deem it worthwhile even to use, she stated.

Getting details about unemployment advantages and greatest practices for eating places is usually a problem. A New York Occasions reporter who reached out to each metropolis and state officers to make clear their well being steering was directed backwards and forwards amongst a number of departments over two days, and several other particular questions went unanswered.

Olivia Sternberg, a server at Le Crocodile, a French bistro in Williamsburg, examined optimistic shortly earlier than Christmas, and the restaurant gave her two weeks of paid sick go away. Managers and homeowners checked in on her often, she stated, to see how she was doing.

Feeling taken care of by her employer gave her a measure of aid, however she nonetheless has considerations: Will clients wish to dine indoors throughout one more surge, within the useless of winter? Will vaccination necessities change, and in the event that they do, how will company react?

“Right here we go once more,” she stated.

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