Two years after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer shut down much of the state economy in an effort to thwart the spread of COVID-19, many firms in industries that had been shutdown or severely limited for months remain in in need of assistance. Nearly $185 million in federal pandemic funding might be accessed under a relief package authorised by the Michigan House recently. That’s the best way to put those COVID funds to use.
Lawmakers in the state Senate are currently considering legislation that would provide companies forced to close during government-ordered lockdowns the opportunity to reopen with restricted limitations, including curfews, dramatically reduced capacity, and social distancing obligations.
According to House Appropriations Committee Chair Rep. Thomas Albert, R-Lowell, “places like restaurants, fitness facilities and theatres are unusual in that they require people to come in” in order to function. To put it another way, “the plan is to restore normalcy to those who are still operating,”
Sadly, a large number of firms failed. Lockdowns and subsequent capacity restrictions affected fitness centres, for example. A $53 million hardship award would be given to gyms and other businesses under the House’s plan.
Since the outbreak of the pandemic in 2020, over one-third of the state’s fitness centres have shut their doors. Relieve is needed in other industries as well. As part of the present proposal, restaurants that have encountered capacity restrictions, dine-in prohibitions, or curfews will receive support.
As many as 3,000 restaurants were shut down by the outbreak in Michigan last year. The state should do everything it can to assist those who have succeeded in returning to profitability so that employment can be preserved and communities may be improved.
This measure from the House would reimburse the state’s costs even if restaurants were forced to close by Whitmer’s demands. When restaurants are forced to close, why should they be required to pay regulatory fees?
A $10 million government grant would be allocated to assist restaurants in training and certifying their workers to serve alcohol, a challenge in a labour market that is already stretched thin. Similarly, legislation to refill the Small Business Administration’s Restaurant Relief Fund should be passed by Congress. Survey data from the MRLA shows how much of a difference it might make: 43 percent of restaurant owners believe that without a subsidy, they won’t be able to keep their businesses open after the epidemic.
94 percent of individuals who received an RRF award have been able to continue their work. Prioritizing federal funds above other expenditures has a strong track record. Lawmakers in the state of California want to allocate $18 million to movie theatres, which were unable to attract customers due to a lack of interest. Funding for live music and entertainment establishments will total $6.5 million.
Providing a $30 million subsidy to convention and visitors bureaus will enhance local economies by reducing losses and attracting new tourists. It’s up to Lansing to remedy this government-created crisis and assist the ailing industry return to their regular state.