U.S. Senator Angus King cosponsors bill to provide restaurants with financial relief from pandemic losses
The RESTAURANTS Act would provide support to small businesses reeling from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic
On Monday, March 1, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) renewed his support for the Real Economic Support That Acknowledges Unique Restaurant Assistance Needed to Survive (RESTAURANTS) Act. This bipartisan, bicameral legislation, which Senator King first cosponsored when it initially was introduced last summer, establishes a $120 billion revitalization fund to support independent restaurants and small franchisees who are facing immense, long-term challenges as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Maine’s restaurants are central parts of our economy and our communities; they create jobs, drive tourism, and provide gathering places that add to the character of our hometowns – on top of cooking up delicious meals for all of us,” said Senator King. “The coronavirus pandemic has threatened this industry, putting livelihoods and small businesses at risk. Congress needs a response that meets the scope of the challenge, providing restaurants with the funds they need to cover payroll, rent, utilities, and more. This is a bipartisan bill, because protecting these businesses is not a Republican, Democratic, or Independent issue – let’s get this done, and protect these local treasures until we bring this pandemic under control.”
Restaurants have been uniquely affected by COVID-19. Restaurants finished 2020 with sales losses of more than $240 billion and 2.5 million jobs below pre-pandemic levels. More than 1 in 6 restaurants are closed permanently or long-term, and open restaurants are grappling with decreased revenues because of reduced capacity and social distancing requirements.
The RESTAURANTS Act would create a $120 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund to provide relief to food service or drinking establishments that are part of a group of up to 20 facilities. Owners could apply for grants of up to $10 million to cover eligible expenses retroactively to February 15, 2020, and ending eight months after the legislation is signed into law. Grants could be used to support payroll, benefits, mortgage, rent, utilities, building maintenance and construction of outdoor facilities, supplies (including protective equipment and cleaning materials), food, operational expenses, paid sick leave, debt obligations to suppliers, and any other essential expenses. On the whole, the recovery fund is expected to generate at least $183 billion in primary benefits and $65 billion in secondary benefits – more than double the amount of the proposed grants.