The government’s Small Business Association has finally launched a COVID restaurant revitalization fund to help the hospitality industry back on its feet – but it’ll give money first to women, vets, minorities and the ‘socially disadvantaged’ and everyone else must wait another three weeks before they can apply.
The fund was approved as part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. It has $28.6billion in government funding.
$9billion of it has been set aside so far; $5bn has been allocated to businesses that took in up to $500,000 in 2019, $4bn has been put aside for those that took in up to $500,000 and $1.5million in 2019, and $500m has been set aside for those that took in up to $50,000 that year. It’s unclear where the remaining $19.6billion will go.
There’s a broad remit of who can apply: it includes not just restaurants but also bars, bakeries, food stands, caterers, breweries, wineries and inns can also all apply. After more than a year than campaigning for it, the restaurant industry rejoiced when it was announced.
But from Monday and for the next 21 days, the only applications that will be accepted will be from women, vets, or people classified as ‘socially and economically disadvantaged’.
Restaurant owners who have struggled throughout the last year are lashing out against the rule which they say is discriminatory. They also fear that there won’t be enough in the fund left once the priority groups have all been paid.
The fund was approved as part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. It has $28.6billion in government funding. It was finally launched on Monday
These are the priority groups that are eligible to apply for money from the Restaurant Revitalization Fund that was released on Monday after months of campaigning from the industry
On its website, the SBA defines socially disadvantaged as ‘those who have been subjected to racial or ethnic prejudice or cultural bias because of their identity as a member of a group without regard to their individual qualities.’
Economically disadvantaged people have been defined as ‘those socially disadvantaged individuals whose ability to compete in the free enterprise system has been impaired due to diminished capital and credit opportunities as compared to others in the same business area who are not socially disadvantaged.’
The SBA on Tuesday could not guarantee that all of the money won’t be used up in the first round of applications – leaving hundreds of thousands of other restaurant workers around the country in the lurch.
It’s unclear how a business owner is to prove that they are or are not part of a socially or economically damaged group.
The fund allots a maximum of $5million per restaurant or site, and $10million to a single applicant who has multiple sites.
Industry leaders told DailyMail.com on Tuesday that there had been no guarantees it there would be enough for everyone to receive some money after the priority groups are processed.
‘Majority Leader Schumer has said on multiple occasions that he will fight to replenish the fund should it be exhausted, and amongst all the political discord, there’s bipartisan support to help restaurants, so we, along others will fight for more funding if they need it,’ Andrew Rigie, Director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance said.
Fury: Many fumed over the prioritization of certain groups and said it was discriminatory
An estimated 100,000 restaurants around America have been forced closed due to the pandemic and hundreds of thousands of restaurant workers lost their jobs
Others slammed the priority group process as ‘discriminatory’.
‘Is this even legal?’ they fumed.
Since the start of the pandemic, an estimated 100,000 restaurants around America have been forced to close their doors, putting millions out of work.
In December 2020, 400,000 restaurant workers lost their job alone.
New York City took the most severe hit.
The city has more restaurants per square mile than anywhere else in America but was subjected to the strictest of lockdowns that included forcing people to buy food with drinks and banned indoor dining for months on end despite low COVID-19 numbers.
It is still not back to normal.
Currently, restaurants can only let in up to 50 percent of their normal capacity.
That will increase to 75 percent on May 7 and 100 percent on May 19, provided restaurants can keep patrons apart with barriers and social distancing.