Direct restaurant relief excluded from latest stimulus bill

Washington DC Bureau

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Despite support from more than 250 bipartisan members of Congress, a piece of legislation to help restaurants is not included in the latest COVID relief proposal.

The pandemic has forced one in six restaurants nationwide to close permanently and more than 2 million employees have lost their jobs, according to the Independent Restaurant Coalition.

“It’s almost like a mass extinction event,” said Los Angeles restauranteur Caroline Styne. “Without any sort of aid coming to us, you will see more restaurants close.”

Styne is also a co-founder of the Independent Restaurant Coalition, which does not support the $900 billion compromise coronavirus stimulus bill because it doesn’t give direct help to restaurants.

It’s likely many restaurants will remain closed or under severe operating restrictions due to the spike in COVID cases and hospitalizations in the U.S.

“It’s impossible really to eat or drink with your mask on and so that’s why restaurants and bars are particularly higher risk,” explained Dr. Deborah Birx with the White House coronavirus task force.

Restaurant owners want the RESTAURANTS Act included in a COVID relief bill. It would provide $120 billion in grants for all types of restaurant business expenses. The Independent Restaurant Coalition says paycheck protection program loans are too short term and limited in what they can be used for.

“We’ve spent $20,000 on fencing in our parking lot to provide an outdoor dining experience,” Styne said.

Democratic leaders are now considering the compromise package, which doesn’t include the RESTAURANTS Act. But they promise help is on the way in 2021.

“That is a total game-changer: a new president and a vaccine,” said Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

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