Service workers worried about futures as bars close, restaurants operate for takeout

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SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. — Restaurants throughout Shelby County must now all close their dining rooms, and that is having ripple effects on thousands of people who work in the local service industry.

One woman who WREG spoke with isn’t sure how she’ll pay rent for herself and her young son.

“He got diagnosed with mild case of cerebral palsy when he was 9 months old,” Kayley said of her 1-year-old son Brady.

To take care of him, Kayley works full-time as a server at a local chain restaurant. It’s already a challenge making $2 per hour.

“My checks are always zero-dollar void checks with everything they take out for taxes,” she said.

She got the same news as so many others late Thursday that the dining room at her restaurant and all others in Memphis must now close to keep people from gathering and spreading the coronavirus.

“Where we make our money is the tips,” she said. “What most people don’t understand is we only make $2.13 an hour.”

She said management told her not even to come in to work, and now she doesn’t know how she’ll pay rent at the end of the month or afford basic necessities.

“We did all get our taxes back, but now we’re spending $500 on groceries because were scared we’re gonna get stuck in our house.”

She said all they can hope for is some relief from the government or her employer.

WREG reached out to her employer to find out if they’re providing any assistance to employees, but we haven’t yet heard back.

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