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USHG,_Union_Square_Cafe,_Dining_Room_HiRes_Dec16_(Emily_Andrews).jpg Emily Andrews
Union Square Cafe in New York City closed temporarily for a deep cleaning.

Union Square Hospitality Group to cover costs of coronavirus tests, treatment for workers

Group temporarily closes two more restaurants for sanitation out of abundance of caution

Union Square Hospitality Group said Wednesday its sick leave policy would be broadened during the coronavirus crisis to ensure workers can take time off if they’re sick.

The group closed two more restaurants temporarily on Tuesday — the signature Union Square Café and adjoining Daily Provisions — to sanitize out of an abundance of caution after a worker felt ill. The group’s founder Danny Meyer posted a video calling for workers to take care of themselves and stay home if they are sick.

“There is nothing more important than your health,” said Meyer in the four-minute video. “If you feel anything out of the ordinary with your health, don’t be a hero. Stay home. If you feel anything the minute you get to work that’s out of the ordinary for you, don’t be a hero. Tell your supervisor immediately and go home.”

On Monday, the New York City-based multiconcept group also closed The Modern, a fine-dining restaurant and bar in the Museum of Modern Art, for sanitation after a guest later tested positive for COVID-19 — even though the guest had dined at the restaurant before his potential exposure to the virus. The Modern reopened on Tuesday.

In the case of Union Square Café and Daily Provisions, a deep-cleaning was scheduled after a worker fell ill and sought medical treatment. The worker’s doctors, however, have since ruled out COVID-19, a company spokesperson said.

The company reportedly opted to sanitize anyway. “We are confident that there are no confirmed cases of coronavirus among our employees or guests and we’ll be reopening for business as usual tomorrow,” the company said in a statement.

USHG already offered sick leave, but, effective immediately, the company will cover expenses for diagnosis and treatment of coronavirus, even if the worker does not have health insurance, as well as paid time off for testing and treatment for as long as their doctor indicates is needed for a full recovery, the statement said.

In the video, Meyer also compared the crisis to tough times in the past, including 9/11, the Gulf War and the Great Recession, offering reassurance that the company will survive. 

“We have the means to weather this,” he said. “If we use our heads and our hearts, and take care of each other, we’re going to end up in a better spot.”

Contact Lisa Jennings at [email protected]

Follow her on Twitter: @livetodineout

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