Unemployment claims skyrocket due to coronavirus

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By: Mike Vasilinda | Capitol News Service
March 23, 2020

Photo courtesy MGN.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CNS) -- 5,300 people applied for unemployment last week, and there were over 75,000 calls to the state’s unemployment assistance hotline.

It comes as restaurants, bars and hotels close due to the coronavirus.

The skyrocketing volume of calls is overwhelming the system.

Florida Restaurant and Lodging CEO Carol Dover said the layoffs are taking their toll.

“We’re having thousands if not hundreds of thousands of people,” said Dover.

Last week, a restaurant in the shadow of the state capitol was hopeful it could survive on carryout alone.

“I do not expect that to make up for the slowdown,” said Owner Paul Roth.

Monday, its doors were closed, but employees were still being paid.

The industry is banking on a federal bailout sponsored by Florida United States Senator Marco Rubio.

Still being negotiated, the plan would allow restaurants to borrow money from the federal government, then pay their employees for up to 10 weeks, and all be reimbursed from the federal government.

“The salary portion of it is a federal grant, and so they don’t have to repay it. Obviously, it does no good to have our members to take out millions of dollars in loans, when at the end of the day, they’ll all, many of them, be close to bankruptcies,” said Dover.

Unemployment in Florida pays a maximum of $275 a week for up to 12 weeks and in some cases up to 23 weeks.

Governor Ron DeSantis has waived the requirement that you look for a job to qualify for unemployment during the current crisis.