Tip dollars help Hoosiers out of work because of COVID-19 pandemic get back on their feet

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INDIANAPOLIS — Coronavirus restrictions are easing in Indiana. Now, statewide, Hoosiers can get a haircut if they wear PPE, and local restaurants can host dine-in guests at half capacity.

In March, hundreds of thousands of Hoosiers lost their jobs overnight when the stay-at-home order went into effect. Restaurants alone laid off 82 percent of employees statewide, over 200,000 people, according to the Indiana Restaurant and Lodging Association. Add to that employees in hotels and personal services, like salons.

Now, as they slowly get back to work, tip dollars go a long way to help these employees get back on their feet.

The INRLA said not only did employees miss out on day-to-day tips, they missed major events that would draw huge crowds to Indy, including the Big Ten Tournament and Sweet 16, St. Patrick’s Day events, FDIC International Firefighters Convention and the Indy 500 and all the events leading to it. Looking ahead, Indy Pride events and Gen Con are among the events canceled.

This means huge financial losses for anyone who relies on tips to pay their bills.

“That bartender is relying on you, that server is relying on you, and, frankly, the prep cook and all the kitchen is too, and we’re very excited to be welcoming guests,” said Patrick Tamm, president and CEO of the Indiana Restaurant and Lodging Association. “The next 30-60 days really determines the financial outcome for many restauranteurs.”

The INRLA estimates, for Indiana restaurants through April, over $930 million in sales were lost, and tips are based on those sales.

That’s a tremendous amount overall, but tips go a long way to help employees just getting back to work.

“We need our guests, and we need them to come back,” Tamm said. “Right now, we’re seeing a lot of customers be more generous in tipping, which is great, we definitely have noticed.”

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