Workers across the country say they have been laid off and left with no way to pay rent because of the rules introduced by states to try to contain the spread of coronavirus.
Bans on mass gatherings and closures of large venues across New York and Washington states have already cost many Americans their jobs.
And more unemployment will follow as restaurants fear business could drop by up to 80% because of the rules introduced to tackle the pandemic.
In New York state, all Broadway workers have been sent home as the industry closed for the first time since 9/11.
Restaurants are shutting their doors after sales fell up to 70 percent in the last week and the state issued rules demanding they cut customer numbers by half, leaving the roughly 10 percent of the New York working population reliant on the industry in limbo.
New York’s largest Chinese restaurant closed its doors after 48 years on Thursday and workers in Broadway, the restaurant industry, and public entertainment spaces such as gyms took to social media to ask how they will survive after losing their livelihoods overnight.
Broadway workers also took to social media asking for the support from the governor and mayor after they’ve lost their livelihoods overnight
Gyms and boutique fitness classes are also being hit, leaving staff jobless overnight
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday afternoon that all gatherings of 500 or more people across New York state will be banned as of 5pm Friday.
Public spaces with an occupancy of 500 people or fewer – such as bars, restaurants and gyms – are also required to operate at 50 percent of their capacity.
Broadway was first to take the hit, with the lights going out on all New York’s shows from 5pm Thursday.
The landmark move saw New York City close its biggest source of tourism for a month – the longest closure in its history and its first since 9/11 – as all Broadway theaters exceed the 500-person capacity.
Broadway workers took to social media asking for the support from the governor and mayor after they’ve lost their livelihoods overnight.
Broadway is New York’s biggest tourist draw raking in sales of $1.83 billion in the last year.
Jing Fong, New York’s largest Chinese restaurant, closed its doors on Thursday after 48 years open, almost immediately after Cuomo’s announcement
The ban on the large group gatherings was the final nail in the coffin for the 800-seat restaurant
This means it is big business and as well as actors and musicians, it provides employment for thousands of stagehands, ushers, and other professionals working behind the scenes.
Actor and singer Matthew Cody Lang tweeted Cuomo Thursday asking how Broadway staff would be able to make ends meet and pay rent.
‘what is your plan to save everyone who you just helped lose their job for a month or more? There are hourly workers who are completely screwed because of your safety precautions. Please give more/better solutions! #nyc #broadway,’ he wrote.
Many workers in the acting industry are on hourly rates, he pointed out: ‘there are hourly workers who have no source of income now that you shut down Broadway for a month or more! What’re we supposed to do? Are you going to pay our rent? Are you going to feed us? Are you going to help us at all??? #nyc #broadway @playbill @nytimes.’
Broadway was first to take the hit, with the lights going out on all New York’s shows from 5pm Thursday
Thousands of stagehands, ushers, actors, singers, and other professionals working behind the scenes are now out of work
Many workers in the industry work on hourly rates meaning they are now at a loss as to how they can pay rent and bills
Another Broadway worker tweeted: ‘Welp, #Broadway shutdown means I don’t have a job for an unclear amount of time… #CoronaVirusUpdate’
Broadway is CLOSED: Governor Cuomo says lights will go out on New York shows and bans gatherings of more than 500 people
Starting Friday at 5pm, gatherings with 500 people or more will not be permitted in NYS. Additionally, for facilities with an occupancy of 500 or fewer, we are reducing the legal capacity by 50%.’
This ban includes Broadway theaters in Manhattan, New York City, which all seat upwards of 500 people and where the ban will start at 5pm Thursday and continue until April 12 – dwarfing the theater district’s two-day closure after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the city.
Broadway theaters in Manhattan, New York City all seat upwards of 500 people
‘For Broadway theaters in Manhattan, these rules will go into effect at 5pm TODAY,’ Cuomo tweeted.
‘We have already spoken to the theaters about these new measures and they agreed.’
Cuomo also said the state is taking measures to create a ‘reserve workforce of health care professionals in the event of a staffing shortage’.
De Blasio had urged Broadway to stay open in an interview with CNN Thursday morning, after it emerged Wednesday that an usher who worked two theaters on the Great White Way had tested positive for coronavirus.
The usher had worked performances of ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?’ at the Booth Theatre and ‘SIX’ at the Brooks Atkinson Theater, meaning thousands of theater-goers may have been exposed to the deadly virus.
De Blasio said the aim was to reach a ‘kind of balance’ and avoid a total closure.
‘I don’t want to see Broadway go dark if we can avoid it. I want to see if we strike some kind of balance,’ he said.
‘If we cannot strike the balance of course we can go to closure that’s the decision we will make right away.’
Broadway producers held an emergency meeting on Thursday to discuss plans to halt all productions with immediate effect, according to reports on Deadline.
‘Something has to be done to help those whose jobs have shut down due to the coronavirus. I’m out of work for my day job for a whole month because of the #BroadwayShutdown. How the flippity flip am I supposed to pay my rent this month?!?’ posted another.
Like Broadway, sports arenas like the Barclay’s Center and Madison Square Garden will also stand empty for months as they face entire closures across sites.
Under the 50 percent capacity rules, bars, restaurants and other public spaces can legally stay open but must halve the number of customers they let through their doors.
The impact of the new rules on New York businesses, which came as Mayor Bill de Blasio declared a state of emergency and cases in the state skyrocketed past 300, is prompting hundreds of layoffs across restaurants.
Even ahead of Thursday’s ban, bookings were down by 30 percent in New York City restaurants and its cancellation rate was 45 percent higher than normal, according to figures from restaurant reservation platform Resy.
The New York State Restaurant Association said that restaurant sales were also down by up to 70 percent over the past week, as anxious New Yorkers were swapping dining out for stockpiling groceries and staying at home.
In Sunset Park, four dim sum restaurants were forced to close earlier in the week because they weren’t getting enough customers through their doors, the president of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce Randy Peers told The Gothamist.
The large restaurants draw big groups for special occasions, he said , and ‘all of that stuff is now going to be put on hold.’
Just a day before the capacity rules were announced, de Blasio had urged New Yorkers to continue to eat at restaurants, and emphasized that the virus isn’t transmitted through food and drinks.
But the capacity rules now means many will struggle to survive at all.
With almost 10% of all jobs in New York are in restaurant and foodservice jobs, according to the National Restaurant Association, meaning households across the state will be left struggling to pay rent and bills.
Jing Fong, New York’s largest Chinese restaurant, closed its doors on Thursday after 48 years open, almost immediately after Cuomo’s announcement.
Claudia Leo, the restaurant’s marketing director, told the NY Post that its Elizabeth Street site was already struggling to draw in crowds amid the mass panic over coronavirus.
The ban on the large group gatherings was the final nail in the coffin for the 800-seat restaurant.
‘We were going back and forth on what to do all day,’ Leo said, adding that they considered ‘shrinking’ the seating to less than half its full capacity.
‘It is all happening very fast. We were trying to take it all in. It is the best decision for everyone’s sake,’ she said.
One bar worker wrote on Twitter Friday morning how jobs she had secured are now on hold as bars are in need of fewer staff amid the crisis.
‘I went from successfully securing three wine jobs to all of them being postponed because of coronavirus,’ she posted.
‘New York is in a state of emergency. Idk what’s going to happen next. Send good vibes that things will blow over soon because your girl has bills to pay.’
Brooklyn food market Smorgasburg, home to several local food vendors, has been forced to close altogether due to the restrictions.
Brooklyn food market Smorgasburg has been forced to close altogether due to the restrictions, sending small independent food vendors into turmoil
Smorgasburg posted the news on its Instagram Friday and spoke of concerns that small businesses rely on the market for survival.
‘In light of the Governor’s coronavirus announcement, effective immediately, all markets are being put on hiatus.
‘We remain hopeful that during this dormant period the health situation will come under some level of control, and that if (and when!) we are able to return, people will feel comfortable returning to Smorgasburg to gather with our community as we begin to find the new normal,’ the post said.
‘This is not an easy decision, as hundreds of small businesses rely heavily on our markets to survive… we look forward to seeing you on the other side.’
The New York State Restaurant Association, which represents restaurant owners across the state, published an open letter Thursday calling on Cuomo to provide respite for restaurants now feeling the hit.
Melissa Fleischut, the president and CEO of the New York State Restaurant Association, said several restaurants have already closed indefinitely and ‘the dramatic decline in business will only get worse,’ said Fleischut.
‘We have member restaurants who have seen a 55 percent decrease in their business, and if they were to take on any additional costs they may not be able to stay in business,’ Fleischut wrote.
‘For some restaurants, it may be impossible to keep their doors open.’
She added: ‘We want to stay open and keep employees on the payroll, but for some that will not be possible if this pandemic, and the associated quarantines, continue for even the next month.’
Fleischut is calling on officials to provide tax breaks, cap food delivery service fees and removing late-payment fees related to business and property taxes.
Neither de Blasio nor Cuomo have yet given any clarity over how the state plans to support the businesses most impacted by the new measures.
As well as restaurants and bars, the capacity rules are also taking their toll on cinemas, gyms and sports facilities.
While New York’s restaurants and Broadway may be the hardest-hit industries, many other New York residents have also posted online about losing jobs in various sectors
Many of the boutique fitness classes across the state operate on a cost per class basis.
Now able to take just half the classes, this means half the income.
‘My job place is about to close ( a gym) and honestly I’m getting freak out .. I have bills to pay my guy #coronavirus,’ one distressed New Yorker who suddenly found themselves unemployed tweeted Thursday.
Then there’s museum staff, such as at the Metropolitan Museum of Art which announced Thursday that it was closing three of its locations across the city.
While these may be the hardest-hit industries, many other New York residents have also posted online about losing jobs in various sectors.
‘I’m a first gen. college student from Washington state living in New York at attending St. John’s university. My school shut down and I’m out of a job (workstudy student) until whenever school starts back up. I’m dorming and away from family. My Cashapp is $DamariPeralezLong !’ one person tweeted.
A worker at a school wrote of hope that the education system won’t be the next to face the chop, saying she wouldn’t be able to survive in that eventuality.
‘Tha sad thing is new york is saying its not going to close its schools and im happy about that. if i dont work i dont get paid. If the schools shut down i would have no find a new job cuz i cant go a whole month or so without pay,’ the anxious woman tweeted.
Mass panic over how comes as Mayor de Blasio said Friday the city’s coronavirus tally remained at 95, with no new cases confirmed overnight.
He also reiterated his previous sentiment that New York is not closing down but is very much open for business.
‘New Yorkers don’t scare easily,’ he said on Fox 5’s Good Day New York Friday morning.
De Blasio also slammed rumors that all of Manhattan was in quarantine as ‘a lie’.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday afternoon that all gatherings of 500 or more people across New York state will be banned as of 5pm Friday, Broadway is shut and public spaces with an occupancy of 500 people or fewer – such as bars, restaurants and gyms – are also required to operate at 50 percent of their capacity
Mayor Bill de Blasio also declared a state of emergency Thursday heralding a dark day for New York workers with many being laid off just hours after the new rules
Across the coast in Washington state, Seattle Governor Jay Inslee also banned mass gatherings and events of more than 250 people on Wednesday as the region announced its 26th death in connection with the coronavirus that day.
The ban covers King, Snohomish and Pierce Counties and affects gatherings for ‘social, spiritual and recreational activities. These include but are not limited to: community, civic, public, leisure, faith-based, or sporting events; parades; concerts; festivals; conventions; fundraisers and similar activities,’ Inslee said.
Like those in New York, service industry workers have been hardest hit.
One person tweeted Friday that many were now struggling to make rent: ‘My sister just texted me about the impact of #Coronavirus: ‘I’ve got friends in Seattle who won’t be able to make rent because they lost their service industry jobs. Are they doing anything to prevent evictions right now?’ @MayorJenny are you going evict or protect people?’
Like those in New York, service industry workers have been hardest hit in Seattle after Governor Jay Inslee banned mass gatherings and events of more than 250 people
Kara Burfeind, who owns The SweetSide, a bakeshop in Seattle, said orders are already down by 75% compared with three weeks ago, because large corporate and social events that the firm typically caters for have been canceled
Kara Burfeind, who owns The SweetSide, a bakeshop in Seattle, told The Guardian that orders are already down by 75% compared with three weeks ago, because large corporate and social events that the firm typically caters for have been canceled.
Burfeind said she hasn’t laid off any staff but said that her eight employees will now need to share 30 to 50 hours instead of the usual 240 hours of work between them – no doubt leaving them all out of pocket.
‘It is such a trying time,’ she said. ‘We just want to be able to do the right thing. And I think that every business owner is scrambling to figure out what the definition of the right thing is.’
In Austin, more than 50 staff of South by Southwest lost their jobs last week after the festival was forced to cancel the March event.
Aside from mass gathering bans, coronavirus is taking its toll on employment opportunities for Americans in many industries.
Five baristas at tech platform Slack’s San Francisco headquarters lost their jobs last week after being told to stay away from the office by a contractor over fears they would be struck down with the deadly virus.
The workers told Buzzfeed News that contracting agency Premier Talent Partners said their contracts would be terminated on March 27, ahead of Slack’s office being closed on March 6.
The workers will get three months pay and an opportunity for full-time employment with Slack after complaining to the firm’s bosses.
‘If anything good comes out of this, people in the same situation as me — not the only ones in this situation — can realize they can stand up and say something,’ said Carly McCarthy, a barista who had worked at Slack for 13 months.
However, not all contract workers will be so lucky.
Airline staff are also losing their jobs as the industry is one of the hardest hit amid the escalating crisis.
President Trump’s announcement of a travel ban hit workers in the sector further.
His 30-day travel ban will stop citizens of 26 European countries from entering the US, excluding the UK and Ireland. It takes effect from midnight on Friday.
Trump also said that a domestic travel ban could be on the cards if coronavirus gets ‘too hot’ in certain areas of the US.
Airports across the US were turned into ghost towns as Americans canceled travel plans and avoided flying.
This is all taking its toll on staff in the travel sector.
On Thursday, discount airline Norwegian Air announced it was laying off half of its staff after it shuttered 40 percent of its long-haul flights and 25 percent of shorter flights.