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Michigan restaurants and bars eligible for new federal COVID aid

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steve carmody
/
Michigan Radio

A new federal program is providing money for Michigan bars and restaurants hard-hit by COVID-19.

But one industry official says more help is needed.

The Restaurant Revitalization Fund is providing $28.6 billion in direct relief through the U.S. Small Business Administration under the American Rescue Plan.   

The nationwide fund will prioritize direct relief to women, veterans, and socially and economically disadvantaged individuals for first 21 days, then first-come, first-serve for all eligible applicants.

Eligible businesses include restaurants; food stands, food trucks, food carts; caterers; bars, saloons, lounges, taverns; brewpubs, tasting rooms, taprooms; breweries, wineries and distilleries; and bakeries. The minimum funding awarded will be $1,000 with businesses that remain open eligible to receive funding equal to their pandemic-related revenue loss up to $10 million per business and no more than $5 million per physical location.

Registration for the funding began on Friday, April 30, with the application period starting Monday, May 3.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says the fund is offering “vital relief” to restaurants and bars to keep their doors open.

“Restaurant owners and other food establishments have made incredible sacrifices over the past year to keep their communities safe and slow the spread of COVID-19,” says Whitmer. 

By one estimate, more than 3,000 food service businesses have closed in Michigan during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Justin Winslow is the president of the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association. He doubts the restaurant revitalization fund will be a “silver bullet” to cure his industry’s problems.

“Twenty-eight billion is a lot of money,” says Winslow, “but it’s not meeting the need that’s out there.”

Winslow wants Congress to approve more relief funding for the hospitality industry and he’d like to see the state to invest in long-term support for Michigan’s restaurants, bars and other food service businesses.

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