A group representing more than 380,000 restaurant business insiders submitted a letter to Congress Monday (January 24), requesting additional federal aid to keep their doors open.
The National Restaurant Association told lawmakers in the letter that the recent Omicron variant surge is putting a strain on eating establishments across the US and may lead to more business closures as cases surge and more Americans opt out of eating in.
The group is specifically seeking Congress to refill the $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund that quickly dried up after being rolled out with the American Rescue Plan and helping struggling businesses. The Association estimates that half of the 177,000 eligible restaurants missed out on the federal aid and are at risk of closure now that Omicron is sweeping through the nation.
According to Fortune, more than 110,000 eating and drinking establishments closed in 2020 amid the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. The aid, the group said, will prevent more restaurants and bars from closing down.
"After two years of closures, COVID-19 variants, worker shortages, and inflationary pressure, a dangerous number of restaurants are at the end of the line," the letter reads. "The RRF was a critical lifeline to many, but far more remain on the sidelines desperately looking for support amid continued economic uncertainty."
An August 2020 report found that the pandemic had wiped out nearly half of Black-owned small businesses, including restaurants and eateries. The report found that Black-owned businesses were twice as likely to close than others.
"The decisions you make in the coming weeks will be critical to the future of the nation's restaurant industry," the letter added.
Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland, who chairs the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee told The Hill last week the committee is "pretty close" to getting support to push the funds through.
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