Massachusetts restaurants want economic relief bill passed

Massachusetts

BOSTON (WPRI) — Massachusetts restaurant owners took their concerns about struggling to stay open amid the pandemic to the State House on Tuesday.

The group “Massachusetts Restaurants United” rallied on Beacon Hill to bring the Economic Development Bill to the forefront. The bill has been delayed in committee for months.

The cooler weather is worrying some that when outdoor dining comes to an end, customers may not want to dine indoors due to the coronavirus.

The bill includes a fund that would issue grants to restaurants to help cover things like payroll and rent, and it would also cap third party delivery fees.

In the earlier stages of the pandemic, other bills were passed to give restaurants a chance to keep business going, like allowing establishments to sell beer and wine, and later mixed drinks with delivery and takeout orders.

Since the pandemic started, about 20% of the restaurants in Massachusetts have permanently closed, and those in the industry fear more could join them.

“The reality is that the winter will be not just full of patios and propane tanks, but possibly closed, hibernating or just permanently done,” Nancy Batista-Caswell, managing director and proprietor of the Caswell Restaurant Group, said.

State Rep. Aaron Michlewitz, chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, released a statement on the issue.

“I look forward to the timely passage of the Economic Development Bill, which, among other things, includes a distressed restaurant relief fund which will provide dedicated revenue to help restaurants in a time when the Commonwealth is hamstrung with record budget shortfalls,” Michlewitz said.

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