US restaurant sector receives some help, but trade group says more is needed
Representatives of the Independent Restaurant Coalition (IRC) recently met with U.S. President Donald Trump and key administration officials to make their case for a proposed USD 120 billion (EUR 107 billion) stabilization fund for the U.S. restaurant industry.
More government relief is needed for the sector, which has struggled through lockdowns over the past two months that have effectively closed most U.S. restaurants to dine-in customers, the trade group told the president, according to a press release.
Separately, in a letter to congressional leaders, 70 partners in the foodservice supply chain – including seafood associations and suppliers – said the pandemic-related state-by-state shutdowns and social distancing regulations have had a devastating impact the interconnected foodservice supply chain.
“From beloved corner restaurants to national chains, restaurants in every community are teetering on the edge of survival, which is why we continue to talk with Congress about a Restaurant and Foodservice Recovery Fund,” Sean Kennedy, executive vice president of public affairs for the National Restaurant Association, in a press release. “We value the support of our suppliers and business partners who have signed on this letter and who have stuck with us during this uncertain time.”
The restaurant industry may benefit from the Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act, which was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in late May. The act amends the Paycheck Protection Program – a stimulus program passed into law in April – to lower the rehiring threshold companies need to meet to receive full loan forgiveness. The proposed legislation also extends the PPP coverage period from eight weeks to 24 weeks.
“The passage of the bipartisan Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act is a sign that both parties agree that the Paycheck Protection Program can work better for independent restaurants,” the IRC said in a press release.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Senate would “soon” vote on the Senate version of the Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act, Roll Call reported.
Separately, U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon), plans to introduce The Real Economic Support That Acknowledges Unique Restaurant Assistance Needed to Survive (RESTAURANTS) Act, which includes the USD 120 billion (EUR 107 billion) restaurant stabilization grant program proposed by IRC.
“Few industries have been as uniformly ravaged as the foodservice industry, which is why I am working with a coalition of culinary experts and advocates and pushing my colleagues in Congress to provide support,” Blumenthal said in a release.
In April alone, 5.5 million restaurant workers lost their jobs, accounting for 27 percent of total job losses in the month, IRC said.
“Without further action from Congress, over 11 million independent restaurant workers are at risk of permanently losing their jobs. Restaurants are facing months of massive revenue losses due to government mandated social distancing, rising costs of supplies, new expenses for personal protective equipment, and a decrease in the public’s willingness to dine out,” IRC said.
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