U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer told members of the press and representatives of the Empire State Restaurant & Tavern Association during a virtual meeting May 27 that he realizes the industry needs federal assistance — and needs it in a hurry.
Actually, Schumer acknowledged an immediate need for funds to stabilize many restaurants that for whatever reason didn’t qualify for stimulus money the first time around or were passed over for businesses with better banking contacts.
He said restaurants “are the heart and soul of New York. We have to save this industry by getting you back on your feet.” Schumer pointed out because so many businesses have part-time employees, many didn’t even qualify for unemployment. The senator said the first stimulus package provided a lot of money for hospitals, offered eviction protection, but provided little for small businesses.
Schumer said the second round of stimulus money was distributed differently, and that 58 percent of the applicants got some financial help. He urged those in need to continue to apply. “There is more set aside,” he said.
The senator said there is a sentiment in Washington more assistance is still needed, especially in the House. However, the Senate has been hesitant. U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell wants to assess the initial rounds of financing, Schumer said.
He promised to set aside more for businesses with less than 10 employees and expand the bill so more companies are eligible. Schumer also said he would press for business interruption insurance.
He cautioned the recovery was contingent on many other factors, including, of course, relaxing laws that limit social gatherings. Scott Wexler, executive director of the Restaurant & Tavern Association, said he is urging leniency for sidewalk dining and a quicker reopening for restaurants in general.
Schumer said the coming years would bring prosperity to the industry.
Those in the business hoping for better news may have been disappointed, however. Schumer said it could take three years for restaurants to reach pre-pandemic levels.