WASHINGTON (AP) – Joe Biden stepped into a restaurant for the first time as president and hosted a Cinco de Mayo taco and enchilada to highlight his government’s $ 28.6 billion program to help restaurants hit by the Coronavirus pandemic have lost their business.
The President went to Taqueria Las Gemelas in Washington on Wednesday and ordered lunch. The restaurant, which was partly owned by Mexican immigrants, was the beneficiary of a pilot version of the restaurant aid program. During the pandemic, the workforce rose from 55 to seven, although some workers were reinstated under the Biden government’s paycheck protection program.
“The catering industry was so badly injured across the country,” said Biden on Wednesday, the anniversary of Mexico’s victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862.
The White House said that 186,200 restaurants, bars, and other eligible businesses had applied for the program in the first two days after the applications were accepted. More than half of the applicants belong to women, veterans or people with historically disadvantaged backgrounds. Aid to restaurants was part of the Biden government’s broader coronavirus aid package of $ 1.9 trillion.
The coronavirus outbreak was particularly brutal for restaurants. America lost nearly 2,700 restaurants last summer, according to the Department of Labor. Around 1.8 million jobs in the hospitality industry have also been lost, although the sector has been gradually giving back jobs since last May.
Researchers at nonprofit Opportunity Insights found that consumer spending in hotels and restaurants fell more than 60% in April 2020 compared to the start of the year. Spending is still 4.5% lower than before the pandemic.
Biden’s aid program, which accepted applications Monday, allows restaurants and bars to qualify for grants to match their pandemic-related lost revenue, with a cap of $ 10 million per business and $ 5 million per location.
The program budgeted $ 9.5 billion for the smallest restaurants and bars, and a third of the applications were submitted by companies with pre-pandemic annual sales of less than $ 500,000. During the first 21 days of the program, applications from women, veterans and socially and economically disadvantaged people will be given priority consideration and funding.
Entrepreneurs wishing to apply for the program can find more information here.