Restaurant industry calls for targeted relief as indoor dining shuts down

Restaurant industry calls for targeted relief as indoor dining shuts down

The restaurant industry, represented by the National Restaurant Association, called on Congress on Wednesday to provide short-term relief to restart the industry shuttered by the coronavirus pandemic.

The association noted in a letter to congressional leadership that in the past two weeks, state and local government mandates have shut down almost 100,000 restaurants due to the uptick in cases. California Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin NewsomLos Angeles police officers attended party at bar against state order: report California's reported decline in infection rate may not be accurate, official says California: Dual threats of wildfire and COVID-19 underscore need for prevention MORE (D) on Monday ordered restaurants across the state to close.

“Despite losing more jobs and revenue than any other industry, Congress has chosen not to advance a recovery package that is tailored for the unique challenges of a major industry on the cusp of bankruptcy,” the association wrote.

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The group called for a targeted Restaurant Recovery Fund to provide short-term relief, as well as creation of a mechanism for restaurants to access a second round of Paycheck Protection Program loans.

They also called for liability protections for businesses, which Republicans have pushed for in the next coronavirus relief package. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump signs executive orders after coronavirus relief talks falter Coronavirus deal key to Republicans protecting Senate majority Coronavirus talks collapse as negotiators fail to reach deal MORE (R-Ky.) is planning to roll out the latest relief proposal next week.

The group also called for Congress to ensure the stability of the food supply chain by prioritizing food and agriculture employees for testing and receipt of a COVID-19 vaccine. The association joined other food industry leaders on a letter to Congress to advocate for this in June.

In addition, they asked for payroll tax relief for restaurant employees to treat them as essential workers and funding programs to feed at-risk populations, providing greater access to restaurant meals for low-income Americans. 

The blueprint for relief came after suggestion submissions from more than 4,100 members of the association.

Overall, the industry has lost more than $120 billion.

The current revenue path aligns with projections that the industry will lose $240 billion in revenue this year.