On Feb 5, Congress reintroduced the bipartisan RESTAURANTS Act to provide long-term and much needed relief to the restaurant and bar community. This legislation was introduced hours after the Senate voted 90-10 on a budget amendment to establish a dedicated Restaurant Relief Fund
The reintroductions come as the Department of Labor issues a new January jobs report showing 19,000 more restaurant and bar workers lost their jobs in January despite gains across the economy. Food and beverage establishments have now lost nearly 2.5 million jobs in the past year due to COVID-19, far more than any other industry. More than one in four people out of work from the pandemic today worked in a restaurant or bar. At least 110,000 restaurants have permanently closed nationwide.
Preserving the independent bar and restaurant industries means protecting these workers’ livelihoods. The pandemic has caused an employment crisis that uniquely impacts marginalized communities including women, people of color, the formerly incarcerated, immigrants, and young people.
We are small businesses, but we have a big impact on the economy, playing a key role in the bar and restaurant industries, which totals $760 billion in sales annually, or about 3.5% of the U.S. GDP. Congress needs to take urgent action to ensure that independent restaurants and bars can reopen our doors, reunite our communities, and reignite our economy when we come out of this crisis.