Parking downtown Kelowna. (City of Kelowna)

‘Lots of unknowns’: Okanagan restaurant workers stressed as COVID-19 causes layoffs

Bars and restaurants throughout the Okanagan are closing as recommended by B.C. government

Okanagan restaurant workers have been hit hard with layoffs as business closures spread into the food and beverage industry.

On March 17, many restaurants informed hourly staff that they would be closing for at least two weeks while the province and municipalities battle the spread of COVID-19.

“I think I saw it coming,” said one server working with a main restaurant franchise in Kelowna.

“They’re taking care of us, better than some other places I’m told, which put my mind at ease. I still don’t know what I’m going to do, am I going to have a job in two weeks? There are EI options but I could stand to lose nearly 75 per cent of my income.”

Most servers and bartenders rely on customer tips for their main source of income because waiting staff earn a minimum wage of $12.70, a dollar less than B.C.’s overall minimum wage of $13.85 an hour.

While multiple restaurants have given their service staff an extra week of pay (based on an average of their last eight weeks worked), the uncertainty of when they may return to work is the hardest part.

“There’s lots of unknowns and that’s the stressful part.”

READ MORE: B.C. declares state of emergency, recalling legislature for COVID-19

READ MORE: Hundreds of Big White employees lose jobs due to COVID-19

With gyms, restaurants, schools, recreational facilities and no job to report to, a lot of restaurant workers and other affected people are feeling anxious about their future.

“I’m trying to keep a level head,” said Chris Loubardeas, a restaurant worker who’s all but self-isolated.

“Getting outside, reading and catching up on sleep and trying not to worry myself about this. There’s two week radio silence from work, but I expect more information after that.

“I’m lucky to have savings and support but if it’s longer than two weeks, its going to cause a lot more problems for a lot of restaurant workers.”

While many resturants have shut their doors, others are still offering take out or delivery, which has been allowed by the province.

To report a typo, email:
newstips@kelownacapnews.com
.


@KelownaCapNews
newstips@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Living with faith

Bea Buhler is a pillar of strength at the Alliance Church

Interior Health officials outline pandemic response in virtual town hall

Kelowna-Lake County MLA Norm Letnick moderates digital discussion, Q&A with Interior Health leadership

Second Vernon-area high school exposed to COVID-19

Kalamalka Secondary School staff, students urged to self-isolate if showing symptoms

MP Morrison touts non-partisan effort to provide relief amid COVID-19 pandemic

The federal government has announced a slew of economic initiatives for those impacted by the pandemic

Revelstoke students to remain home next week

The district said staff are preparing for learning opportunities for students from home

B.C. is seeing the highest rate of COVID-19 recovery in Canada, and there’s a few reasons why

British Columbia was one of the first to see rise in COVID-19 cases, and has also switched up testing

No hesitation; two bystanders assist in South Okanagan house fire rescue

“I’d do it for anybody,” says Penticton man after assisting in house fire rescue

RCMP, firefighters rally in support for health care workers in Kelowna

Pandosy Street was packed with supporters Saturday night

WATCH: Okanagan producer treats neighbours to live music from safe distance

Neighbours practiced social distancing as Jeff Johnson played songs from his front steps

Sewers stitch masks to free up supplies for front-line health-care workers

“We have little old ladies sewing up a storm,” said Joan Davis

Experts weigh in on best handling of groceries during COVID-19 pandemic

Study suggests the virus can live for up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to three days on plastic

COVID-19 world update: Enforceable quarantine in NYC?; France orders 1 billion masks

Spain warns EU’s future at stake; New York governor calls Trump’s idea ‘federal declaration of war

Earth Hour 2020 kicks off online Saturday night

Action moves online due to COVID-19

Okanagan woman baking for those in need amid COVID-19

Vernon’s Crystal Hedlund launched a GoFundMe page to generate funds for baking materials

Most Read