ALTOONA, Pa. (WTAJ) — Coronavirus has given many businesses a run for their money, but none have been hit quite as hard as bars and restaurants.
As restrictions across the country continue to tighten around the food service industry, many small businesses are finding it difficult to keep their heads above water.
The first plan of action for these businesses was to sign up for the Paycheck Protection Program—a program that’s a part of the Coronavirus Economic Relief Act.
Businesses, which are approved can get small business loans through August 8, in order to keep their workers on the payroll.
But workers in the food industry feel that is not enough to keep going.
On June 18, the Real Economic Support that Acknowledges Unique Restaurant Assistance Needed to Survive Act, or Restaurant Act, was introduced in congress as a bipartisan bill that would give an additional $120 billion in relief to small restaurants and bars devastated by this pandemic. Area bars and restaurants are pleading with the community to push for it to pass.
“This is an industry that employs an incredible number of people in the country,” said Richard McGarvey, owner of McGarvey’s Bar in Altoona, “ten percent of the people in Pennsylvania and its something that we desperately need, a lifeline we need to continue to operate.”
McGarvey says that the loan is an important step not only to keep restaurants open, but also to help aid the state during the recovery process.
“Here in Pennsylvania, we bring in 24 billion dollars a year, minimum. That’s a lot of income that the state can certainly use, especially as we try to recover from this,” said McGarvey, “but without any kind of assistance from the government, then a lot of that money and a lot of those jobs are going to disappear. “
Congressman John Joyce, who represents Pennsylvania’s 13th district, said the bill is currently in discussion and we will know in the coming weeks what the next steps are.
However, Dr. Joyce said that while this bill is in the works, there are other important matters to discuss as well, such as getting people back to work safely, the economy and more legal protection.
“Any additional legislation, and this is so important, must include liability protection, to protect against bad actors who are targeting these Americans,” said Dr. Joyce, “our front line workers, the servers, the restaurant owners, and those of us who serve us great food throughout Blair County.
Whether or not the Restaurant Act will be approved will be decided on in the coming weeks.