Is There Additional COVID-19 Relief Incoming?

With spring in full affect and summer right around the corner, many workers are starting to see a return to “normal” work environments as the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic lessens. 

However, even two years since the start of the pandemic, there are still industries trying to recover. Some of them being the businesses we frequent weekly or even daily. Industries such as retail and hospitality, especially restaurants, have faced unprecedented challenges due to the pandemic. In their continued effort to provide financial assistance, the House recently approved a new bill that will pump over $50 billion into industries affected by the pandemic. 

This bill includes an additional $42 billion for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund. The Restaurant Revitalization Fund was created by the American Rescue Plan Act, signed into law in March 2021 and provides funding to help restaurants and other eligible businesses such as bars, caterers, and bakeries to help keep their doors open. The bill also includes $13 billion for non-industry specific businesses with 200 or fewer employees and each business would be eligible for $1 million each. While this is good news for such industries, the bill is unlikely to gain enough support in the divided Senate. 

In response to the potential difficulty in passing, the Senate has introduced its own bill that would provide $40 billion to restaurants and $8 billion to various small businesses through the creation or renewal of specific industry funds.

This $8 billion in funding includes: 

  • $2 billion for gyms
  • $2 billion for live event venues
  • $2 billion dollars to bus and motor coach companies
  • $1.4 billion to small business located near border crossings that were closed during the pandemic
  • $500 million for minor league sports teams.

Similar to the House bill, $40 billion of restaurant money would go to the Restaurant Revitalization Fund with eligible businesses being those realizing significant losses during the course of the pandemic. 

The fact that the majority of funding from both bills is allocated for the restaurant industry is no accident. As one of the hardest hit industries from the pandemic’s effects, only about one third of restaurants that applied to the Restaurant Revitalization Fund received a portion of the original $28.6 billion approved by Congress. For struggling restaurants, either bill would provide additional funding as well as welcomed news after years of hardship.

As the country is facing record inflation numbers, detractors of the bills point to the potential negative impacts more government spending could have on the economy. While those in support, call on Congress to put aside political differences to support not just an industry but local business owners. 

Regardless of politics, these bills would have a significant impact across a variety of industries as small business owners look forward to their resolution and possible assistance. 

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