COVID-19 Relief is Emerging. Where to Turn for Help.

The intense impact the Coronavirus (COVID-19) is having on the world is devastating. We’re just beginning to understand the public health impact of COVID-19; however, most of us are already feeling the financial impact due to reduced hours and/or mandatory closings.

Government policies are changing by the hour. The House approved changes on Monday for economic relief legislation. The bill is headed to the Senate, where it is unclear how quickly the legislation will pass; but it is on the way.

In the meantime, many cities and states are already planning how to help out businesses affected by these widespread closures and quarantines. Check with your local government to see if they are offering assistance.  Below are a few examples of what to look for in your area:

  • In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on March 8 that the City will provide relief for small businesses across the City seeing a reduction in revenue because of COVID-19. Businesses with fewer than 100 employees who have seen sales decreases of 25% or more will be eligible for zero interest loans of up to $75,000 to help mitigate losses in profit.
  • California has granted a 60-days extension for individuals or businesses who are unable to file their tax returns on time or make timely payments in light of COVID-19.
  • In most major cities, including Illinois, St. Patrick’s Day is a big deal and many operators purchased alcohol in bulk to prepare for the festivities. Due to the cancellation of events statewide, small business owners have been given a break: Federal and state laws normally don’t let bars return liquor to distributors, but the state liquor commission on Wednesday made an exemption.
  • The Seattle Hospitality Emergency Fund has been setup to provide assistance to workers “whose hours have been curtailed because of this crisis and who are not being otherwise compensated,” prioritizing “BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, disabled, and immunocompromised members of our community.”
  • Also, don’t forget to file for unemployment. Some states, including Texas, have special benefits set up for those whose employment has been affected by COVID-19.

Restaurant employees also have several other options available. Below is just a handful of resources to help out those workers in need of assistance. Some are local efforts, but there is bound to be plenty of resources in a city near you, so be sure to check online for similar options.

  • The USBG National Charity Foundation’s Bartender Emergency Assistance Program has applications available for bartenders in need.
  • The Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation (RWCF) which works across a number of labor issuesin the restaurant industry, launched the RWCF COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund. The fund collects donations to provide relief to individual workers affected by the coronavirus and to create zero-interest loans to businesses.
  • The Southern Smoke Foundation is currently accepting applications from restaurant owners and service industry workers.
  • One Fair Wage is a nonprofit advocating against sub-minimum-wage laws for tipped restaurant workers, will provide immediate cash assistance to restaurant employees, delivery workers, and other tipped workers in the food industry.

We know how difficult these last few weeks have been since a majority of restaurant workers live paycheck to paycheck.  Maintaining one’s mental health is an ongoing challenge; especially since restaurant workers are prone to vices such as drinking and drug abuse, and this crisis has potential to exacerbate the issue.  If you know anyone who’s struggling, show particular care and concern. Sticking together is the best chance we’ve got to ride this wave. Chefs With Issues is an invaluable resource.

Let’s stay safe and look out for each other. We will get through this together.


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