Bars and restaurants are still struggling – will Congress help?


The new spread of the coronavirus is increasing financial pressure on bars and restaurants, and there is a new push in Congress to provide businesses with additional financial assistance.

The new spread of the coronavirus is increasing financial pressure on bars and restaurants, and there is a new push in Congress to provide businesses with additional financial assistance.

Many bars and restaurants were just starting to recover from the pandemic this summer, with increasing numbers getting vaccinated and eager to return to their favorite gathering places.
But the rapid spread of the delta variant has made a difference. Restaurants are again faced with the demands of masks and how to protect the health of their employees and customers.

“We don’t want these classic American small businesses shutting down,” said US Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia.

Unfortunately, as Kaine notes, many have already done so. The National Restaurant Association estimates that 90,000 restaurants nationwide – about 1 in 10 – have closed since the start of the pandemic.

Kaine and his colleague from Virginia, US Senator Mark Warner, are leading a new campaign to replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, created by Congress to help struggling bars and restaurants.

The fund was created with $ 28.6 billion as part of the US bailout package that Congress approved earlier this year, and was immediately inundated with 278,000 eligible claims, asking for more than $ 72 billion.

“Our goal is to just fill the bucket, like we did with the paycheck protection program,” Kaine said. “We don’t want these restaurants to disappear and not come back. “

One of the many bars and restaurants that closed recently was Whitlow’s on Wilson in Arlington, which had been a popular hangout for over 25 years.

The owners hope to return at some point and are looking for a new space.

Kaine pointed out that many companies who applied for financial assistance made small technical errors in their original applications, only to find that the money was gone after they submitted their documents correctly.

“And so you have restaurants in communities (which) could be across the street from each other – one was able to get the restaurant fund and the other wasn’t,” he said. .

Kaine noted that many restaurants are often “mom and pop, kind of classic small businesses, that the community really relies on.” “

Warner and Kaine wrote a letter to the Senate leadership, urging that RRF funding be given a higher priority.

“The food and beverage industries have been among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, with restaurant and foodservice sales down $ 280 billion from expected levels and jobs in restaurants down 1.7 million from pre-pandemic levels, ”the senators wrote.

The Senate is currently grappling with a host of infrastructure law issues, so it’s unclear how quickly Congress could respond to their request.

Last month, nearly a thousand independent restaurateurs, workers and activists staged a rally in Washington, calling for the restaurant fund to be replenished.

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