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Whataburger reducing employees in corporate office, field support due to COVID-19

The Whataburger logo is seen on a restaurant in Friendswood, Texas, on May 31, 2018.
The Whataburger logo is seen on a restaurant in Friendswood, Texas, on May 31, 2018. (KPRC)

SAN ANTONIO – Whataburger has announced layoffs and furloughs at its corporate office and in field support as the restaurant industry continues to feel the effects of the novel coronavirus.

The San Antonio-based burger chain confirmed to KSAT 12 News that the reduction in workforce will spread across 10 states. The reduction is comprised of layoffs and furloughs, Whataburger said.

The exact number of layoffs or furloughs was not immediately given.

“Like many companies, Whataburger is managing the best it can through this global pandemic,” President Ed Nelson said in a statement. “We call our employees Family Members, and we have built a very caring culture here – so the decision was not easy. It is, however, essential to streamline in a way that best positions us to make it through this current crisis and help ensure long-term success for our restaurants and brand.”

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Affected employees are receiving personalized packages that include some combination of compensation, medical benefits and transition assistance. They also will be able to file for unemployment.

“These next few months will be challenging," Nelson added. "But I believe this crisis will pass, and I look forward to the days when our communities can gather in our dining rooms again and share their special occasions with Whataburger.”

Whataburger locations, like other restaurants in Texas, have closed their dining rooms under Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order. Whataburger is still operating drive-thrus and curbside pickup.

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Whataburger confirmed the layoffs as the number of Texans filing for employment has climbed tremendously due to the pandemic.

More than 270,000 Texans applied for unemployment between March 22-March 28 alone, according to the Texas Tribune. Nationwide, more than 6.6 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits during that time frame.

The U.S. economy has now suffered nearly 10 million layoffs in just the past few weeks — far exceeding the figure for any corresponding period on record, the Associated Press reported.

COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new virus, stands for coronavirus disease 2019. The disease first appeared in late 2019 in Wuhan, China, but spread around the world in early 2020, causing the World Health Organization to declare a pandemic in March.

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