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A Quandary for New York Restaurants and Workers: What to Do About Omicron?


After Nikolas Vagenas, a bartender at Apotheke in Chinatown and Bar Meridian in Brooklyn, tested positive for the virus in mid-December, he tried to apply for unemployment benefits both over the phone and online. The website “was supercomplicated,” he said. “I called them and waited on the phone, and they said I didn’t qualify.”Asked whether restaurant workers who test positive for the virus are eligible for unemployment, a spokesman for New York State said: “Unemployment determinations are made on a case-by-case basis, but restaurant workers are eligible for unemployment under the same standards as every other worker.”But Ms. Jayaraman noted that the state’s eligibility requirements for unemployment include being “ready, willing and able” to work, according to the New York labor department website, and specify that “you may not file for a week when you work more than 30 hours or earn more than $504 …

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