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Relief fund set up for hospitality workers

Pearl, above Port o’ Call on Front Street

A new relief fund will provide financial support to some hospitality workers left out of work by Covid-19 closures. Restaurant firm Yellowfin Group has set up a scheme to help tide over the group’s employees during the crisis.A post on Facebook said that 50 per cent of gift card sales for its restaurants and bars until the end of April would go to “supporting staff members who will be affected by this current crisis”. It added: “In the event that our team members will not need to draw from the fund, Yellowfin pledges that all monies raised will be paid out equally to every team member once the situation has stabilised.” The group runs the Port o’ Call, Pearl, Bistro J and Ruby Murry’s restaurants, as well as the Astwood Arms and Yours Truly bars, all in Hamilton. A study by PwC Bermuda last November estimated there were 2,752 hospitality workers in Bermuda. The Yellowfin post warned the sector was “at breaking point, with no immediate end in sight”. It appealed to the public: “The hospitality industry has been there for you, for your business dinners, birthdays, corporate and charity events.“Our staff have been there for you through rain and shine, on weekends, public and bank holidays, helped you celebrate milestone events with your families and colleagues. “Now you have a chance to help them.” No one from Yellowfin could be contacted yesterday. However, Ryan Gibbons, the bar manager at Barracuda Grill, part of Island Restaurant Group, said the fund was a “great idea”. He added: “I’m glad they’ve done it to help their staff and we at IRG have launched our own similar campaign.” Mr Gibbons said that the shutdown of the Island Restaurant Group’s five venues, apart from takeout services, had led to a “temporary mass layoff of staff just as other operators have had to do”. He added: “This is an enormous blow that has rattled hospitality services.” The 34-year-old has worked in the sector for the past 17 years and has won four Best of Bermuda bartender awards. Mr Gibbons said that many in the sector, as well as other customer-facing sectors, were “seriously concerned about being able to pay rent and provide for themselves”. He added that border closures had meant many work-permit holders were unable to return home over the layoff. Mr Gibbons said a pledge by Bermudian-based drinks giant Bacardi to provide $3 million to help workers in the bar and restaurant business and a financial safety net announced by the Government to provide up to $500 a week to people thrown out of work, combined with the hard work of private companies to stay afloat and the support of the public, was a good sign.He added: “It is that combined mighty effort that is a ray of positivity in these times of great uncertainty for those most affected.” To buy a gift card for any of the Yellowfin businesses, call 295-5373 or e-mail portocall@yellowfin.bm. The cards, which have no expiry date, can be picked up at the front desk of any of the group’s restaurants.