America's bartenders hurt by coronavirus aided by national fundraiser

USBG Foundation's COVID-19 relief campaign is seeking donations

The USBG National Charity Foundation is offering some financial relief to bartenders left unemployed after bars and restaurants shuttered to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

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The foundation's Bartender Emergency Assistance Program, also called BEAP, has assisted bartenders, barbacks and bar servers who are in need of financial assistance as a result of a catastrophic event or an emergency hardship since 2015.

However, with the "turmoil and uncertainty created by the spreading COVID-19 virus," the program is now seeing an influx of calls.

"The service industry, and the beverage industry in particular, is being hit hard," the foundation's website reads. "The closure of bars, restaurants, and venues means that these vital members of our community are no longer able to earn wages and take-home tips.

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CORONAVIRUS SHUTS DOWN BARS NATIONWIDE AFTER REVELERS IGNORE SOCIAL DISTANCING

As the global outbreak of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, continues to spread, officials across the country have curtailed America’s nightlife. Illinois, Ohio, Massachusetts, California, Washington state and New York City are among the places that ordered bars to close and restaurants to stop dine-in service in response, although takeout and delivery will still be allowed.

The move, one of many efforts to fight the disease’s spread, forced many employers to lay off their staff.

"Our intention is to support the lifelong well being of the hospitality community, " Aaron Gregory Smith, executive director of USBG told FOX Business on Tuesday. "These are hard jobs on a good day and those who work in hospitality are used to giving and prioritizing others."

The foundation is working to give these employees the financial resources they need in order to take care of themselves, Smith said.

However, with the program experiencing such “high demand” in applications, USBG Foundation's COVID-19 relief campaign is seeking as many donations as possible to help fund the BEAP program.

"We are here to help those in our industry most in need, and we ask you to 'help us serve those who serve us, '" the foundation's website reads.

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Eligible applicants receive grants to help with their finances. The grants are distributed in the form of lump sums or as determined by the USBG National Charity Foundation's Board of Directors based on the needs of that person.

Last year, the average grant given under "normal emergency circumstances" was typically $1,800 and processing took an average of four to five weeks, Smith said.

To date, the foundation has not set a standard amount given the current circumstances, Smith cautioned.

To date, over 190,000 people have been infected with COVID-19 worldwide and more than 7,500 have died.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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