U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) has cosponsored the bipartisan Real Economic Support That Acknowledges Unique Restaurant Assistance Needed to Survive (RESTAURANTS) Act to establish a $120 billion revitalization fund. It’s intended to help independent restaurants deal with the long-term structural challenges facing the industry because of COVID-19 and support the reemployment of 11 million workers.
“Local restaurants and workers across Wisconsin need our support now to survive this economic crisis,” Baldwin said. “Many small and independent restaurants are operating at reduced capacity and may be forced to close their doors for good if we don’t act now.”
Restaurants have been unusually affected by COVID-19. In April alone, 5.5 million restaurant workers lost their jobs, accounting for 27 percent of total job losses during the month. Without further action from Congress, more than 11 million independent restaurant workers are at risk of permanently losing their jobs, Baldwin said. Restaurants are facing months of massive revenue losses because of government-mandated social distancing, the rising costs of supplies, new expenses for personal protective equipment and a decrease in the public’s willingness to dine out.
There are more than 1 million restaurant locations in the United States, including bars, independent restaurants, chain restaurants and social caterers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the restaurant industry has lost more than 6.1 million jobs – the most of any industry, and double the figure from the next-most-affected industry.
Small independent and franchise restaurants are more at risk of permanently going out of business because consumer spending at these establishments has been disproportionately affected, and they lack the same access to capital markets. In total, the recovery fund would generate at least $183 billion in primary benefits and $65 billion in secondary benefits – more than double the amount of the proposed grants.