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Photo via Getty Images.

BY BETH DEDMAN

The House of Representatives passed an economic relief bill for the coronavirus March 14, which would direct billions of dollars to cover needs of Americans affected by the crisis including paid sick leave, unemployment insurance and free testing.

As part of meeting the criteria for the bill, New York state is waiving the seven-day waiting period for unemployment insurance benefits for people who are out of work due to closures or quarantines related to the Coronavirus, according to the Department of Labor.

The Secretary of Labor will divert money from the Federal unemployment account to the Unemployment Trust Fund. From that point, they will determine the amount each state is qualified to receive and will send at least half of that money to each state account within 30 days, according to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Twitter March 15 that he was going to sign an executive order limiting restaurants, bars and cafes to food take-out and delivery, and also order nightclubs, movie theaters, small theater houses and concert venues to close.

The order will go into effect at 9 a.m. March 17.

“This is not a decision I make lightly,” de Blasio said on Twitter. “These places are part of the heart and soul of our city. They are part of what it means to be a New Yorker. But our city is facing an unprecedented threat, and we must respond with a wartime mentality.”

Nearly a quarter of U.S. workers do not earn a paycheck if they miss work because of illness, according to Pew Research. Most of those workers are hourly employees at lower income levels, who would be directly affected by the mandated closures.

With the relief bill in place, employers must provide 14 days of paid sick leave if employees have the coronavirus or have to care for an infected family member with it and therefore get placed in quarantine. They must be paid at least two-thirds of their wages they would make on the job.

“We will come through this, but until we do, we must make whatever sacrifices necessary to help our fellow New Yorkers,” de Blasio said.

The forms for filing an unemployment insurance claim are available at https://labor.ny.gov/unemploymentassistance.shtm.

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