As restaurant and bar owners struggle to pay rent and other overheads with minimal income, service workers have had it the hardest, argues Tim Nugent, owner of Shakewell in Oakland.
RELATED: Californians brace for lapse in unemployment benefits as COVID-19 relief bill awaits president's signature
"That was probably the most heartbreaking thing," said Nugent about letting go of more than a dozen staff members at the beginning of the pandemic.
He was able to hire some of them back and retain them, even with to-go only orders.
But the uncertainty of the industry has started to have other noticeable impacts.
One of his employees decided to move back home to Thailand, rather than try to stick it out in the Bay Area.
RELATED: Would you leave the Bay Area and move to Oklahoma for $10,000? Hundreds of remote workers are trying to
"I had this great host, she was just hoot and holler, as just happy as could be, but just couldn't make it," said Nugent.
The mix of unemployment benefits, savings accounts and help from friends and family can only go so far, said bartender Danny Baker.
"Everything that I saved, my cushion per se, it's gone," he said.
Formerly employed at a bar in San Francisco, he said he was able to briefly go back to work when indoor dining was allowed.
He says some of his former colleagues have already moved out of California for work in states where restaurants are open. With unemployment benefits barely enough to cover rent, he says he is starting to look elsewhere as well.
RELATED: 2 California regions' stay-at-home orders extended indefinitely as ICU capacity remains at 0%
"I know they put out some good unemployment initially, but it's not all there now. And we know how it is to live in the Bay Area," commented Nugent.
As the stay-at-home order is increased for Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley, the return of the restaurant industry still seems uncertain.
The Bay Area region is still set to come out of the stay-at-home order on Jan. 8, though that could change if there is a Christmas-related surge.
When in-person dining does return, Nugent worries there may be a shortage of workers.
"I feel like we will have lost a lot of the industry folks when we come back and are alive. I think it will be tough to find the help for it," he said.
If you have a question or comment about the coronavirus pandemic, submit yours via the form below or here.
Get the latest news, information and videos about the novel coronavirus pandemic here
RELATED STORIES & VIDEOS:
- From COVID-19 to Black Lives Matter, these 13 people defined the Bay Area in 2020
- Map: CA counties that can, can't reopen under new rules
- CALCULATOR: Find out how many people may get a COVID-19 vaccine before you
- VIDEO: When will I get the COVID-19 vaccine? We explain who goes 1st
- COVID-19 risk calculator: The safest and most dangerous things to do this holiday season
- Want to get a COVID-19 test in time for the holidays? Here's what you need to know
- Updated number of COVID-19 deaths, cases in Bay Area
- Map shows everywhere you can get a COVID-19 test in the Bay Area
- COVID-19 Diaries: Personal stories of Bay Area residents during pandemic
- California EDD: The most commonly asked questions we get about unemployment and PUA
- Health experts urge flu shots in effort to avoid 'twindemic'
- How to tell the difference between seasonal allergies and coronavirus symptoms
- Here's which mask is better to protect from COVID-19
- First COVID-19 vaccine volunteers in US describe experience as Bay Area launches vaccine trials
- Coronavirus origin: Where did COVID-19 come from?
- What is a COVID-19 genetic, antigen and antibody test?
- What will it take to get a COVID-19 vaccine and how will it be made?
- What does COVID-19 do to your body and why does it spread so easily?
- Here's how shelter in place, stay at home orders can slow spread of COVID-19
- Coronavirus Timeline: Tracking major moments of COVID-19 pandemic in San Francisco Bay Area
- Coronavirus Doctor's Note: Dr. Alok Patel gives his insight into COVID-19 pandemic