A worker installs American flags as part of a Covid-19 memorial on the National Mall in Washington, DC, January 18, 2021.
Carlos Barria | Reuters
When the Covid-19 pandemic took hold in March 2020, Stéphanie Bonin and her husband, Keith Arnold, co-owners of a restaurant in Denver, feared they were facing financial disaster.
The pandemic prompted them to close Restaurant Duo, which serves contemporary American farm-to-table cuisine.
There was no manual on what would happen next, as federal and state aid to deal with the crisis had yet to be implemented.
They have temporarily laid off all but three of their 15 employees.
At the time, Bonin knew that she and her husband would not get unemployment insurance. While their staff would receive benefits, it would not match their weekly paychecks and tips.
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“Their livelihood was on our shoulders,” Bonin said. “This is what kept us from sleeping at night.
“How are we going to make sure they can work? “
Bonin started a Change.org petition calling for $ 2,000 a month in aid to every American during the pandemic.
Today, this call to action online is still supported, having crossed 3 million signatures. Change.org has put up a video of personal testimonials from people who say they need more federal help.
The milestone comes as a resurgence of Covid-19 due to the omicron variant is forcing some small businesses to close and schools to consider whether children should attend classes in person. Meanwhile, lawmakers on Capitol Hill are discussing what help can be implemented – especially for businesses like restaurants.
The Democrats’ Build Back Better proposal stalled on Capitol Hill. This bill would allow additional monthly child tax credit payments, although Sen. Joe Manchin, DW.V., has called for tighter targeting of this assistance.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Said in an interview with CBS’s “Face the Nation” over the weekend that more help for Americans could be added to an upcoming fundraising bill. federal.
However, Bonin said she is already hearing from supporters of the petition who need more help now.
This includes people who may have to quit their jobs if their children return to virtual learning, grandparents living on fixed incomes who support their grandchildren, and people who need a boost. to be able to rent apartments.
Renters and housing activists in Brooklyn, New York, demonstrated in a Bushwick park on July 5.
Erik McGregor | Getty Images
For many, these problems show no signs of abating.
“The marathon doesn’t even describe it,” Bonin said. “It’s just life.”
Bonin and Arnold recently closed Restaurant Duo for a week around Christmas after half of their kitchen staff contracted Covid-19.
While they lost about $ 30,000 in earnings for the week, they still paid about $ 9,000 in payroll due to paid leave mandates.
If they are forced to close again, the loss of revenue will put more financial pressure on the business. Meanwhile, because their staff have used up all their sick leave, there is no longer a mandate for them to be paid.
Bonin and Arnold, who run the restaurant virtually from Brattleboro, Vermont, also grapple with additional Covid-related uncertainties as parents of two daughters, aged 9 and 14.
Help through the payroll protection program, which they attribute to keeping the restaurant in business earlier in the pandemic, is no longer available. Stimulus checks and improved federal unemployment benefits dried up last year. This month the monthly child tax credit payments ceased.
These uncertainties and the twists and turns of the pandemic over the past two years have resonated with the Change.org petition, Bonin said.
“I think that’s what 3 million people are saying, which is’ We just need certainty. We have to have something that we can plan month after month,” Bonin said.