United States sick leave aid leaves millions of workers in the cold

It's usually standing room only at O'Duffy's Pub on St Patrick's Day, as patrons clad in green pack into the bar to share a drink or two and plenty of food. But this year, owner Jamie Kavanaugh and one of his bartenders sat alone on the holiday that commemorates Ireland's patron saint. 

Like restaurants across the country, Kavanaugh's Kalamazoo, Michigan, bar is now only allowed to serve takeout food as part of social distancing ordinances meant to curb the coronavirus pandemic.

"People are usually celebrating, smiling, toasting one another, sharing hugs and smiles. Instead, the pub is empty," Kavanaugh told Al Jazeera. "People that came in for takeout didn't even want to come in the door, and they're afraid to use the pen to sign."

The city's annual St Patrick's Day parade was also cancelled because of the virus, which has infected more than 4,000 and killed 75 across the Untied States. The virus has also taken a devastating toll on the economy and small businesses like Kavanaugh's. He estimates he's lost between $20,000 and $30,000 in sales over the last four days alone.

And he wonders how he'll pay the more than 16 people he employs as servers, bartenders, cooks and dishwashers without decimating his own retirement savings.

"It seems like this crisis is going to be what I have been working all my adult life for," Kavanaugh said. "I won't be able to pay myself in the short term. I will have to dig into savings, money that's set aside for my retirement, in order to keep the restaurant going and pay the bills, and do what I can to pay the staff and maintain them."  Aljazeera

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