Over the coming weeks, Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser will distribute US$35 million in COVID-19 relief to the city’s hardest-hit restaurants. The grants fall under the Bridge Fund—an initiative to inject US$100 million into the city’s hospitality, entertainment, and retail industries.
The Restaurant Bridge Fund will award up to 700 grants, worth between $10,000 and $50,000 each. Eligible businesses range from restaurants, bars, and bakeries, to food trucks and distilleries.
The grants will take into account how each business is faring financially, how long they have operated, and the number of people they employ. Additionally, 15 percent of the fund—more than US$5 million—will be set aside for businesses owned by economically disadvantaged individuals or women.
“Since the beginning of the pandemic, DC businesses in the hospitality, entertainment, and retail sectors have made tremendous sacrifices to help us protect residents by combating and containing this virus,” Mayor Bowser said in a recent press release. “We remain committed to providing the support and resources that will help them get through these challenging times and eventually cross the bridge to normalcy.”
More than 60 DC restaurants have shuttered since the start of the pandemic. The rest have taken heavy hits—from city-wide lockdowns and capacity restrictions, to expensive precautionary measures, like staff testing, extra cleaning, and safety gear.
At least 35,000 Washingtonians have lost jobs in hospitality, entertainment, and retail so far—accounting for more than 60 percent of all job losses in DC during the pandemic.
In a recent news conference, Bowser acknowledged hurdles yet to come. “We announced these [grants] because we know the businesses are right now struggling and we also know that the days ahead can be significant for them, too,” she said.
And as COVID-19 cases surge in the District once again, a new round of restrictions could be on the horizon. As of November 25, the city banned the sale of alcohol at restaurants after 10:00 pm. This comes as rollbacks continue across the country. Governor Andrew Cuomo, for instance, halted indoor dining in New York City earlier this week.
Restaurant Bridge Fund applications will be accepted through December 22.
Photo courtesy of pixabay
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