Host intro: The COVID-19 pandemic has had a catastrophic effect on many New York businesses, with around 17 million people unemployed or furloughed from work according the burau of labor. For months, food businesses were only allowed to provide take out or delivery services. As the city slowly re-opens, now in stage four, the financial impacts and concerns about people not following social distancing rules has placed Hassane Soumahoro, a Sweetgreen employee under pressure. Pedro Aviles has the story.
AMBI: Sweetgreen cash register typing sounds
Track: I’m here with Hassane at one of the busiest Sweetgreen’s in the middle of Manhattan at 61st street. Since the shutdown, with few people commuting into their Manhattan offices, this location has seen a major slowdown in lunchtime customers and has had to implement new safety rules to stay open.
ACT: When the lockdown started, we didn’t let anyone in the store, and it was only online orders. After phase 2 we had to wear face masks, only six people are allowed in the store. Its only pickup, you can order in the store and the pickup is separated so there is no congestion.
Track: One of their recent sales to attract customers didn’t go in their favor as uncooperative people gathered outside.
ACT: Unfortunately we had a sale and a lot of people popped up, so we kind of got a violation for that, we had way more than 3 people outside of our store at the time, it was definitely hard to tell the people you can’t stand there when you have to pick up your food you know.
TRACK: The stress buildup from work and trending social media videos of people not wanting to follow face mask rules inside stores has placed Hassane in a state of frustration.
ACT: You know is weird because It goes down but as soon as you step outside it keeps rising back up, like what the hell is going on, is like people walking by with corona passing it on. Is also crazy that people are not wearing masks I’ve been to a couple of protests I haven’t gotten corona yet but I think that’s because were always wearing some masks, like we walk past stores and see people seating down eating with no masks, see people walking no masks, see people riding bikes with no masks, like come on man there’s a whole pandemic going on.
Track: As for his future he is uncertain of what awaits, he has hopes on graduating from Brooklyn college and getting a degree in media—a precarious/unstable industry even under the best of circumstances.
ACT: I feel unsecure, is going to be ridiculous especially because I’m going to do media. I’ve been applying for some new jobs, but it is tough to get a new job in my field.
TRACK: During the height of the pandemic, Hassane and his fellow employees were all given a dollar an hour raise, but that is set to expire this month and he is worried that some people will need to be let go. For Baruch College, this is Pedro Aviles in Manhattan
The COVID-19 pandemic forced most New York city residents to stay home but essential workers. Several weeks after the shutdown companies like Wholefoods and Trader Joes announced they would give their workers a 2-dollar wage increase as a result of the situation. Unlike the large chain companies most small businesses workers don’t have the same privileges. Several workers especially immigrants can lack health care, decent wages and even protective equipment.
I will be reporting on someone who is currently working at a small business, showcasing their experience at their job.
New York city phase 2 of the reopening allowed restaurants to move onto outdoor dining, many have relied on sidewalk space to accommodate customers and keep them at a safe distance. Customer accommodation and usage of space by a restaurant will be the focus of the photo essay, several of my neighborhood restaurants are using creative methods to attract customers such as placing outdoor decorations. Some of the visuals I anticipate are how workers are behaving around customers and if customers are following the social distancing rules as they socialize.
The ongoing pandemic has caused many local businesses to permanently close down so a story on a restaurant trying to stay in business is not only relevant but interesting as they improvise.