More than eight in 10 restaurant employees in Pennsylvania — at least 332,000 people — have been laid off or furloughed since the beginning of March, according to the National Restaurant Association, which on Monday asked Congress for $240 billion in federal assistance to rescue the industry from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
The human and financial toll enumerated in the NRA’s report, sent to congressional leaders, is stunning in its breadth:
“Assuming a gradual reopening of the economy in June 2020, we forecast sustained losses of $240 billion for restaurants by the end of the year,” the NRA said in a letter to lawmakers.
The NRA says the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program to help small businesses, itself valued at $350 billion, is too limited for most restaurants because it lasts only eight weeks and requires businesses to spend at least 75% of the loan on salaries. The round of PPP money was exhausted quickly, though a move to offer additional relief is in the works.
The NRA asked Congress for a relief plan called the Restaurant and Foodservice Industry Recovery Fund, which it valued at $240 billion. The fund would compensate restaurants for government-ordered closures and give them the capital needed to reopen and to rehire workers.
Under the proposal, a restaurant that lost at least 25% in sales could apply to the account, which would be administered by the Treasury Department. Under the plan, Congress would revise the PPP’s loan-forgiveness requirements; provide tax credits or grants to help restaurants modify their facilities to accommodate continued social distancing; enhance sanitization and employee education, and expand use of personal protection equipment and disposable products; and provide federal help for an employer’s share of unemployment insurance.