‘It’s a whole mess of confusion’: Local service industry workers laid off talk coronavirus impacts

Local News

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The first of the month means that bills are due for many. For the first time, hundreds of service industry workers are out of work due to the novel coronavirus, but they’re still expected to pay bills.

The impacts are expected to last at least another three weeks and are continually felt locally.

RELATED: Workers, businesses look to adjust to coronavirus crisis effects on service industry

“So here I am, I’ve decided to sell some things, make sure I have my rent paid. Of all things that can’t go wrong, I can’t lose my house,” said Cassandra Petersen, a former waitress at Downtown Grill and Brewery.

Petersen was laid off after city restaurants closed dining rooms in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. She worked at Downtown Grill and Brewery for year, it was her main source of income.

 “It’s a whole mess of confusion. I just don’t know what to do… I don’t know what to do, literally.” 

Cassandra Petersen, laid off at Downtown Grill and Brewery

Peterson says she lives with roommates, all former employees at Downtown Grill and Brewery, now unable to pay their April rent.

Downtown Grill and Brewery is offering their employees financial support, in the form of an online tip option, while they opted to close for two weeks during the coronavirus pandemic.

The option to Tip the Team is available as a way to support staffers, like Petersen, while the restaurant is closed.

She isn’t alone in feeling uncertain about the future and finances. Others in the local service industry are changing plans without a job.

“I know that now I need to be very very careful about my spending. I had a little bit saved up, because I was going to get married in October…” said Drew Lafasto, formerly employed at PostModern Spirits and Kabuki, as a waitress.

Lafasto said she has savings and isn’t worried about upcoming bills and payments, yet. She says she’s applied for unemployment and local support through Service Industry Coalition Knoxville’s relief fund.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Coronavirus COVID-19 videos

Biden slams Trump for 'knowingly' lying on COVID

McEnany: Trump 'never lied' to the public on COVID

Trump bemoans virus restrictions in North Carolina

University of Tennessee relocating Massey Hall residents to make room for COVID-19 self-isolation cases

Coronavirus in Tennessee: Knox County reports 100 new cases, 157 new inactive cases

Knox County Health Dept. says plan in place for vaccine distribution

UT Chancellor: Some dodging COVID-19 precautions

Two Tennessee women participating in a COVID-19 vaccine study

Tennessee teachers asking for more safety measures

State launching COVID-19 schools dashboard

Knox County Health Dept.: Numbers reflect new timeframe for inactive cases

Clinton High School cancels next 2 weeks of games due to virus

UT chancellor: Fraternities trying to avoid COVID-19 precautions

Trending Stories

WATE 6 Storm Weather School

WATE 6 On Your Side Twitter