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Couple leaves $9,400 tip to help restaurant staff through coronavirus shutdown

A customer left a $9,400 tip at Irma's Southwest restaurant in Houston, Texas on March 16, 2020.
A customer left a $9,400 tip at Irma's Southwest restaurant in Houston, Texas on March 16, 2020. Louis Galvan via ABC13

An anonymous couple left a whopping US$9,400 tip at their favourite restaurant in Houston on Monday, in hopes of helping the staff cope with sweeping social distancing measures meant to slow the novel coronavirus outbreak in Texas.

The Good Samaritans left $1,900 in cash and put another $7,500 on a credit card, according to a receipt shared by Irma’s Southwest restaurant owner Louis Galvan. The original bill for the meal was $90.12, the receipt shows.

“Hold tip to pay your guys over the next few weeks,” a note on the receipt said.

“They left a gratuity for the entire kitchen and serving staff,” Galvan told CNN on Tuesday. “We didn’t expect it, to be honest with you.”

READ MORE: Penguins go on ‘field trip’ after U.S. aquarium shuts down during coronavirus pandemic

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Houston restaurants were ordered on Monday to shift their service to takeout or delivery only, meaning the staff at Irma’s will have to tighten their belts for uncertain times ahead.

Restaurant workers around the world are facing an uncertain road ahead, as officials shut down public life in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus that causes the COVID-19 disease.

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Many jurisdictions in the United States and Canada have cancelled public events and closed all bars, restaurants and cafes. Public health experts say these measures will help prevent a spike in cases that could overwhelm the healthcare system.

READ MORE: Flatten the curve: How one chart became a rallying cry against coronavirus

However, the protective measures are also forcing restaurants to cut back on hours, lay off staff or outright close until further notice. That’s why Galvan and his staff are so grateful to get a little bit of help through the coming hardships.

“They were amazed that a client would care enough about them to leave that amount to help them get through this tough time,” he said.

Galvan estimates that the tip will work out to about $300 for each of his 30 employees, all of whom are facing cutbacks due to the outbreak.

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“The gift we got today should help soften the blow,” Galvan told CBS 7.

The kind gesture comes after another diner left a $2,500 tip for restaurant staff in Ohio.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials say the risk is low for Canadians but warn this could change quickly. They caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are asked to self-isolate for 14 days in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the avirus to others.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. And if you get sick, stay at home.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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