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Restaurant workers continue to face challenges, uncertainty during pandemic

Published: Oct. 29, 2020 at 10:00 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Employment remains a challenge during the COVID-19 pandemic. The head of the Anchorage Economic Development Corporation says COVID-19 has cost the city about 10% of its jobs.

“As many as 15,000-16,000 jobs lost,” said Bill Popp, president and CEO of the AEDC.

He estimates nearly half of those job losses came from the hospitality and leisure sectors. Restaurants have been hit especially hard.

At the Bear Paw Bar and Grill, business is not where employee Alysha McGuire and other employees would like it to be.

“Financially it’s been difficult, it’s been a struggle,” McGuire said.

McGuire works two positions at the restaurant: server and manager.

“I try to remain positive about the whole thing because I’m just thankful to have a job,” she said. “... My job is not guaranteed. Not because my management doesn’t care about me; not because the owners don’t care about me,” McGuire said. “[It’s] because the industry is so on the rocks right now, so to speak.”

Popp urges restaurant customers to follow safety guidelines from the Anchorage Health Department such as mask-wearing and good hygiene.

“Things are tough right now for many of our businesses,” Popp said. “We are deeply concerned many of our long-standing businesses may not be in business come next spring.”

Dave Leval contributed to this story.

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