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How far will the $28.6 billion relief fund for restaurants go?

Kristin Schwab Mar 12, 2021
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In its first phase, the Restaurant Revitalization Fund will prioritize disadvantaged businesses and those owned by women and veterans. Spencer Platt/Getty Images
COVID-19

How far will the $28.6 billion relief fund for restaurants go?

Kristin Schwab Mar 12, 2021
Heard on:
In its first phase, the Restaurant Revitalization Fund will prioritize disadvantaged businesses and those owned by women and veterans. Spencer Platt/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
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The new federal economic relief package provides $28.6 billion for restaurants, food trucks and bars. Like the Paycheck Protection Program, the Restaurant Revitalization Fund is a lifeline for businesses devastated by the pandemic. But there are at least some key differences.

PPP loans came with rules. For the money to be forgiven, a good portion had to go to payroll. Beth Gruitch, who owns four bistros in Denver, couldn’t safely bring enough people into work. So to meet requirements, “we had, you know, essentially paid our employees to stay home.”

She’d like to have spent some of the loan on her outdoor dining setup. That’s her plan if she gets a grant — it’s not a loan — from the Restaurant Revitalization Fund.

How much money businesses qualify for is an easy equation: 2019 gross receipts, minus 2020 receipts, minus any PPP.

Certain types of businesses will be prioritized. “The first 21 days are going to be set aside specifically for women- or veteran-owned businesses or people in socially or economically disadvantaged businesses,” said Sean Kennedy, executive vice president of public affairs at the National Restaurant Association. And $5 billion will go to restaurants that made $500,000 or less in 2019.

Kennedy hopes this means funding will be divided more equitably. But, “it’s just a question of how long the funds will last.”

That’s partly because restaurants are in a big hole. Melissa Fleischut, president and CEO of the New York State Restaurant Association, said many of her members are overdue on their rent.

“As far as clearing up that mountain of debt from the last year and trying to help them feel like they can start over, this is really what they need,” she said.

Since the start of the pandemic, more than 110,000 restaurants have closed long term or permanently.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

Can businesses deny you entry if you don’t have a vaccine passport?

As more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the economy begins reopening, some businesses are requiring proof of vaccination to enter their premises. The concept of a vaccine passport has raised ethical questions about data privacy and potential discrimination against the unvaccinated. However, legal experts say businesses have the right to deny entrance to those who can’t show proof.

Give me a snapshot of the labor market in the U.S.

U.S. job openings in February increased more than expected, according to the Labor Department. Also, the economy added over 900,000 jobs in March. For all of the good jobs news recently, there are still nearly 10 million people who are out of work, and more than 4 million of them have been unemployed for six months or longer. “So we still have a very long way to go until we get a full recovery,” said Elise Gould with the Economic Policy Institute. She said the industries that have the furthest to go are the ones you’d expect: “leisure and hospitality, accommodations, food services, restaurants” and the public sector, especially in education.

What do I need to know about tax season this year?

Glad you asked! We have a whole separate FAQ section on that. Some quick hits: The deadline has been extended from April 15 to May 17 for individuals. Also, millions of people received unemployment benefits in 2020 — up to $10,200 of which will now be tax-free for those with an adjusted gross income of less than $150,000. And, for those who filed before the American Rescue Plan passed, simply put, you do not need to file an amended return at the moment. Find answers to the rest of your questions here.

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