According to a recent report by State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, up to half of New York City’s bars and restaurants are on the verge of closure in the next six months. That could cost the city 12,000 establishments and a whopping 159,00 jobs.
Already, the NYC Hospitality Alliance estimates that 150,000 New Yorkers in the industry are out of work.
Though the federal government created the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) through the CARES Act at the start of the pandemic, it has not done enough to provide relief to help small businesses, particularly in the hospitality industry, survive.
One measured and logical solution is the aptly named RESTAURANTS Act, a bill that would create a $120 billion grant program specifically to aid struggling bars, restaurants and caterers. The funding can be used on any number of expenses, including payroll, mortgage or rent, utilities and supplies.
The grants would be an important stop-gap measure to help stem the tide of financial losses, and at the very least, get these establishments to 2021, when hopefully indoor dining will return to full capacity.
The Democratic-controlled House already passed the RESTAURANTS Act several weeks ago as part of the HEROES Act package. The Senate, run by Republicans, has not taken up the legislation, for which they should be reprimanded.
This is not a partisan issue. As Congresswoman Grace Meng and Congressman Pete King demonstrated last week when they both participated at an event advocating for the legislation, the RESTAURANTS Act will help stabilize the industry and red and blue states alike.
By the time this legislation comes up for a vote in the Senate, it may be controlled by a different political party. In fact, the person running the White House might be different too.
Whoever is in charge, whether it’s Joe Biden and the Democrats or Donald Trump and the Republicans, they need to pass and sign the RESTAURANTS Act immediately if we have any chance to save the hospitality industry as we know it.