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UPPER WEST SIDE, Manhattan — The saying goes that good help is hard to find, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only made things harder for entrepreneurs like Gaurav Anand.

He told PIX11 News that he hired “one of the best designers” to decorate his brand new restaurant, Awadh, but the issue now is finding employees to staff his business.

Anand places some of the blame on prospective applicants choosing to stay home and collect unemployment as opposed to working, but he also acknowledges what science and raw data shows: COVID cases are spiking again, and that contributes to an ongoing hiring drought.

“I can’t find a mixologist. I can’t find a bartender. I can’t find waiters,” he said, adding that he’s even started offering extra incentives like cellphones and bonuses to prospective employees.

John Waldmann, the founder and CEO of Homebase, works with more than 100,000 small-to-medium-sized businesses to manage employee scheduling and payroll.

Homebases’ latest data shows that, for the one-week period starting Dec. 12, businesses reported a 3.5% decrease in the number of people working — that’s compared to the same one-week period in 2020.

“For these teams that are already understaffed, if somebody receives the virus or a positive test result, even one person away from that business may mean that they’re not in a position to serve their customers,” Waldmann said.

In the meantime, Anand said he and his management team at Awad on the Upper West Side are doing whatever they need to do to keep things going.

“They are all jumping, saying ‘you know what, we’re going to work on the floor until we find people,'” he said.