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National Restaurant Association asks Congress for industry relief as eateries, bars face $240B revenue loss

RFIRF, a relief fund, is major component of restaurant industry Blueprint for Recovery

The National Restaurant Association sent a letter to Congress asking it to support the restaurant industry as it projects eateries and bars nationwide will lose $240B in revenue due to the COVID-19 health crisis in 2020. In addition, 8M restaurant workforce jobs, or about 67 percent, have been lost due to furloughs and layoffs already. In the letter, the Association asks Congress to adopt its Blueprint for Recovery, providing additional relief to the restaurant industry.

A letter directed to Congressional leaders—Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy—asks for a set of immediate actions, including enacting the Restaurant and Foodservice Industry Recovery Fund (RFIRF), providing $240B to compensate restaurants for government-recommended and -mandated closures. Plus, additional recommendations in the Blueprint call for replenishing PPP and EIDL, a Healthy Restaurants Tax Credit, and funding employers’ share of uninsurance.

[To view the letter, click here.]

A total of 60 percent of restaurant owners say federal relief programs, including the CARES Act and its small business funding components, are insufficient to help them keep employees on payroll during the health and economic crisis, according to a new Association survey. In addition, the restaurant industry lost $30B of revenue in March and expects to lose another $50B in April.

RFIRF and Restaurant Blueprint for Recovery

Here are the major components in the Blueprint for Recovery, as written by the Association’s advocacy team:

  • Enact the Restaurant and Foodservice Industry Recovery Fund (RFIRF): The $240 billion RFIRF compensates restaurants for 1) government-ordered closures, 2) reopening “start-up” capital to meet massive challenges of reorienting the restaurant space, restocking inventory, and supplying the workplace with new safety equipment, and 3) rehiring and retraining the workforce. Any restaurant entity that has experienced a reduction in sales revenue of 25 percent or more due coronavirus can apply to the account, which would be administered by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
  • Replenish funding and fix the structural issues of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP): Ensure restaurants can select their loan period after government restrictions end, revise loan forgiveness requirements, and restore the 10-year loan term written in the CARES Act.
  • A “Healthy Restaurants” Tax Credit or Grant Program: Federal support to help restaurants modify physical facilities to accommodate continued social distancing, enhance sanitization and employee education, and expand use of personal protection equipment and disposable products when employees interact with both customers and each other.
  • Provide federal relief for employer’s share of unemployment insurance: Temporary tax forbearance for employers should be considered from the Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA).
  • Enact the “SNAP COVID-19 Anti-Hunger Restaurant Relief for You Act of 2020” (SNAP CARRY Act): Legislation from Rep. Panetta (D-CA) and Senator Murphy (D-CT) expands the Restaurant Meals Program to serve all SNAP participants during the crisis and gives the U.S. Department of Agriculture ability to temporarily waive requirements for states and restaurants to quickly participate.
  • Increase funding for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs): Restore $50 billion in needed appropriations for organizations in economic distress, including those that need to access a second EIDL.

Blueprint supported by restaurant industry data

Recent foodservice industry data bears out the Association’s mounting concerns. Foodservice consultancy Technomic projects the broader foodservice industry to lose nearly 28 percent of its sales during 2020 due to government measures and consumer responses to the COVID-19 outbreak. Furthemore, according to data analytics firm Black Box Intelligence, the restaurant industry posted a comparable decline of 28.3 percent in March and more than 65 percent during the last two weeks of that month.

“On March 18, we wrote you a warning of a bleak outlook for the restaurant industry…as the pandemic was unfolding,” said Sean Kennedy, National Restaurant Association EVP of Public Affairs . “One month later, we have a clearer picture of the severe challenges that lie ahead, and ask for a focused solution on behalf of an industry that is a vital part of every community.”

To view the Blueprint for Recovery, navigate here.

Photo credit: National Restaurant Association

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