Restaurant workers out of work again as virus surges anew

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A restaurant worker cleans the tables in the outdoor dining area of a Mexican restaurant in La Mirada, Calif., Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020. Waiters and bartenders are being thrown out of work again as governors and local officials shut down indoor dining and drinking establishments to combat the nationwide surge in coronavirus infections that is overwhelming hospitals and dashing hopes for a quick economic recovery. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Waiters and bartenders are being thrown out of work — again — as governors and local officials shut down indoor dining and drinking establishments to combat the nationwide surge in coronavirus infections that is overwhelming hospitals and dashing hopes for a quick economic recovery.

And the timing, just before the holidays, couldn't be worse.

Restaurant owner Greg Morena in Los Angeles County was trying to figure out his next step after officials in the nation's largest county banned in-person dining for at least three weeks, beginning Wednesday. But he was mainly dreading having to notify his employees.

“To tell you, ‘I can’t employ you during the holidays,’ to staff that has family and kids, I haven’t figured that part out yet. It’s the heaviest weight that I carry,” said Morena, who had to close one restaurant earlier in the year and has two operating at the Santa Monica Pier.

Randine Karnitz, a server in Elk River, Minnesota, said her boss laid her off last week after Gov. Tim Walz announced that bars, restaurants and gyms would close for four weeks as infections spiked to an all-time high and pushed hospitals to the breaking point.

“‘Well, your last day is tomorrow. You don’t have a job. You can thank your governor for that,'" Karnitz said her boss told her.

She said her husband's hours also have been cut at his manufacturing job, forcing the family to postpone house repairs.

Karnitz, though, said that she supports a shutdown and that people who didn't take the virus seriously bear much of the blame.