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NYC restaurant workers who still have jobs say they're afraid to ride the subway to work and wonder if they're really 'essential' workers in a pandemic

NYC restaurant workers who still have jobs say they're afraid to ride the subway to work and wonder if they're really 'essential' workers in a pandemic
John Lamparski/Getty Image



New York City's restaurants have been closed to diners for three weeks to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, leaving thousands in the industry jobless.




Some restaurants have been able to keep on some of their staff by pivoting to takeout and delivery.




While those workers feel lucky to still have a job, some wonder if they're really "essential" workers during the pandemic — and some are afraid that coming to work will expose them to the virus.




"The struggle is weighing which is more important: coming into work and then possibly getting sick, or leaving work and not having a job to come back to," one restaurant manager told Business Insider.




Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.



For Jimmy Lee, the fear of getting the coronavirus is always in the back of his mind.
While thousands of New York City restaurant workers are out of a job, Lee has been putting in 45-hour weeks doing takeout and delivery at the BBQ restaurant in Brooklyn where he works as an assistant general manager. About 16 people were furloughed or laid off at the restaurant, Lee said, including the entire front-of-house team and most of the kitchen team.
In New York, restaurant workers doing takeout and delivery are considered essential workers. But Lee says he's not sure they really are.
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