US lawmakers push for revitalization fund to help restaurants around the country

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WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — The pandemic is hurting business all over the country, but local restaurants are among the hardest hit.

“So many of our independent restaurants have seen revenues decline by 50,60,70 percent,” U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) said.

Lawmakers like Warner and Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine say those restaurants need a helping hand to keep their doors open for business.

“So many of them are independently owned, small mom-and-pop operations. What can we do to shore them up?”

Both Virginia senators co-sponsored the bipartisan Restaurant Act of 2020, which creates a $120-billion revitalization fund to help restaurants survive the pandemic.

“It is a longer-term program that will help them through the period until they are able to fully reopen,” Warner said.

Warner and Kaine say if Congress does not intervene, more than 11 million restaurant workers are at risk of losing their jobs.

“I talked to so many businesses who would like to bring people back but they don’t yet have the demand to bring back workers,” Kaine said.

In localities like Roanoke and Lynchburg in Virginia, restaurants are facing revenue loss because of the decrease in customers dining out, along with the rising costs of supplies and personal protective equipment for employees.

“If we suddenly saw them all close down, it might be years before those downtowns would return,” Warner said.

Both Kaine and Warner want their bill included in the next coronavirus relief package.

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