Spring break is usually a time when some college students go back home and work at their part-time or full-time jobs. In the midst of the coronavirus (COVID-19), that was not the case.
Hallie Harvey, a sophomore journalism and political science major, said she earns hundreds of dollars in tips on a busy weekend night bartending at Napper Tandy’s Irish Pub in Smithtown, N.Y.
“When I heard we’d be closing I was so disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to make money or support myself for the next few weeks until we open again, especially because I was hoping to pick up more hours now that classes are online,” Harvey said.
This seems to be the case for many students, as they find themselves out of jobs as a result of the executive order by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. All bars and restaurants closed down indefinitely to stop the spread of the coronavirus on Monday, March 16.
“The coronavirus affects students because all waitresses and waiters no longer have a job and they rely on their job at home to make money for their car insurance, payments and textbooks,” Victoria Dotto, a sophomore biology major, said.
Bars and restaurants have only been available for take-out and delivery services since crowd capacities were reduced to 50 people on March 16. Cuomo, along with Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, implemented the policy throughout the tri-state area.
D.P. Dough, a calzone restaurant in Stony Brook, remains open with normal hours — but only for delivery and take-out services. Leonardo Rosefort, a D.P. Dough employee and freshman at Suffolk Community College, said that business has slowed down tremendously and they only receive about 25 to 30 customers a day.
Cuomo said that the goal is to contain the spread of COVID-19, to avoid overwhelming the health care system.
“Social distancing is the best way to do that,” Cuomo said. “I have called on the federal government to implement nationwide protocols but in their absence, we are taking this on ourselves.”
The temporary closures are expected to last “as long as is necessary to protect the public health,” according to Cuomo.
In addition to restaurants and bars, 100% of non-essential workforces were ordered to stay home on March 22, affecting those students who also had jobs on-campus.
Odean Gilzene, a senior technology management systems major, worked at the Walter J. Hawrys Campus Recreation & Wellness Center on campus and at a bar in the city.
“The coronavirus kind of put a huge restriction on a lot of my everyday life routines like work or even going to the gym,” he said. Gilzene now stays at home and is out of both of his jobs.
His income loss, like many other students, has affected his ability to support himself.
“For some students, it [income from on-campus jobs] helps sustain their daily living and paying for school,” Durron Newman, the assistant director of Campus Recreation for Student Employment & Marketing, said. “Financially, students were not prepared for something like this.”
Nearly 17 million people in the United States have filed claims for unemployment benefits in the past three weeks. The New York Times reported that many economists say actual job losses “are almost certainly greater, and there is wide agreement that they will continue to mount.”
Cuomo has directed the state nonessential workforce to continue to work from home for an additional two weeks through April 29. However, that date may be stretched as confirmed cases on Long Island hit 19,333, according to Cuomo’s press briefing on April 2.
“New York City is so much larger than Westchester and Nassau or Suffolk. So those numbers are concerning and we’re watching those,” Cuomo said. He said he found the spike in cases on Long Island “troubling news.”