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Restaurant Workers Affected By Coronavirus Pandemic Can Get $500 Grant

The fund will help cover rent, food and utilities, according to the Illinois Restaurant Association.

The Dine Out West Lakeview program closed sections of Southport Avenue so restaurants can serve tables in the street.
Provided/Lakeview Chamber of Commerce
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CHICAGO — Restaurant workers seeking relief during the coronavirus pandemic can now apply for a one-time $500 grant.

The Illinois Restaurant Association launched the statewide relief fund to provide financial support to restaurant industry workers impacted by the pandemic. The fund will help cover rent, food and utilities, according to the association. 

To qualify for the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund, individuals must have been out of work for three or more weeks without unemployment benefits,  been diagnosed with coronavirus or served as a caregiver for an immediate family member who contracted coronavirus.

Restaurant workers can apply for the grant online. They’ll be asked for proof of Illinois residency, a restaurant pay stub and other information.

“There is a rolling deadline, as the IRAEF continues to aggressively fundraise. As long as there are funds to disperse, they’ll keep accepting applications,” Janet Isabelli, a spokeswoman for the Illinois Restaurant Association, said in an email.

The restaurant industry was hit hard when restaurants and bars were forced to close indoor dining for months to slow the spread of the coronavirus. 

Sam Toia, the association’s president and CEO, said coronavirus has “jeopardized the livelihoods of tens of thousands of hospitality workers …[and] 594,000 jobs are at stake throughout the state.”

In a statement, Toia said the association predicts at least 20 percent of restaurants will be forced to close permanently, resulting in the loss of about 120,000 jobs.

“Establishing this fund was a necessary step to do all that we can to secure the stability of our current workforce. We need to help as many people as possible across Illinois,” Toia said in the statement.

Anyone interested in donating to the fund can do so online

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