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published on March 24, 2020 - 10:36 AM
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In response to dwindling traffic because of quarantine orders, restaurant groups across the nation are calling on Congress for a relief package of their own.

A letter addressed to President Donald Trump, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell from the National Restaurant Association (NRA) requests a number of programs from the federal government to stave off what the NRA estimates as $225 billion in lost revenue over the next three months and “a minimum loss of 5-7 million jobs.” The California Restaurant Association (CRA) requested similar measures from California lawmakers.

“As an industry that is based on welcoming everyone through our doors, we are uniquely affected by mandates that keep us from serving our customers,” according to the letter by NRA Executive Vice President Sean Kennedy.

Restaurants are already finding it difficult to pay bills. Toledo’s Restaurant in Fresno had been in the middle of constructing a new location at Cedar and Nees avenues. In a video posted to Facebook last week, Jesse Toledo, a senior vice president with Toledo’s Inc., thanked their contractor, Lanco Construction, for refunding their deposit on construction, allowing them to pay their 150 workers.

“The one thing we wanted to do was complete our payroll — our final payroll for our employees because we had about $40,000 more to go in order to finish it,” said Toledo in the video.

The letter asks for $145 billion from the Treasury Department in order to maintain operations and keep employees. It also asks for $35 billion in community development block grants and deferments for mortgages, loans and lease obligations.

Additionally, the letter also called on Congress to approve $100 billion in federally-backed insurance payments for restaurants that purchased business interruption insurance and whose policies have exclusions for viruses, which most do, according to the letter.

“The CRA is urging action from California lawmakers as well,” said Sharokina Shams, spokeswoman for the CRA. “We’re working on a proposal now that would provide relief to restaurants from ongoing bills — the largest of those being their lease payments. It would be temporary relief that would allow them to hibernate, so to speak, so that once we get to the other side of the coronavirus crisis, they’ll be able to reopen their businesses.”

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