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“We’re all in this together and we’re going to get through this." Servers talk about bar, restaurant shutdown

COVID-19 is having a noticeable impact on restaurants in the Midlands and leaving many workers in limbo.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The restaurant industry across the state is feeling the effects of COVID-19. South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster issued a series of orders, including closing dine-in services at restaurants.

Now, many restaurants in the Midlands are making tough decisions to temporarily lay off most of their employees. Taylor Larsen, bartender at Steel Hands Brewing and Pearlz in the Vista, was informed about her termination of employment from both of her jobs Thursday.

“It’s scary. You don’t prepare for this at all. I never would assume that I would be out of work. I’ve been in this industry for over 10 years. This is how I rely on paying my bills,” Larsen says.

Just hours after learning that she lost both of her jobs, Larsen was on her way to file for unemployment insurance benefits. Larsen says she is worried as her income source is gone, along with the thing she loves, serving others.

But there is one important thing - Larsen is not losing, hope. “We’re all in this together and we’re going to get through this,” she says.

Larsen is confident that she will be re-hired by her employers once things are back to normal, but the stress of the unknown weighs heavy on her.

“Obviously there are people impacted way worse than I am, and I’m just trying to keep a positive outlook,” Larsen adds.

Andrew Thompson, General Manager of Saluda’s Restaurant in Five Points, is taking a similar outlook. As the restaurant transitioned into carry-out and curb-side orders only, they had to temporarily lay off 25 of their employees.

“The situations seems to change every hour and that’s part of it,” Thompson says.

He says this decision did not come easy, but he felt comfort knowing his employees would be taken care of with the help of government assistance.