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Wine Spectator: New Covid Relief Act Helps Restaurants And Wineries

March 17, 2021

One year after the Covid-19 pandemic began, the U.S. government has enacted the first federal aid targeted directly at one of the most heavily damaged American economic sectors: the restaurant industry. And it could help impacted wineries, as well. The American Rescue Plan (ARP), passed by Congress and signed into law by President Joe Biden last week, includes $28.6 billion for restaurants, bars and other dining businesses. Winery tasting rooms are also included.

Restaurant-specific aid was first proposed last fall when the House of Representatives considered the Real Economic Support that Acknowledges Unique Restaurant Assistance Needed to Survive (RESTAURANTS) Act. That bill proposed more than $120 billion in direct grants to the dining industry. The act passed the House but not the Senate, and despite pleas from the restaurant industry, was never incorporated into the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Securities (CARES) Act that was signed into law in March 2020. During this round of legislating, the bill was added to the ARP, albeit at a much smaller price tag of just under $30 billion.

Eating and drinking venues, including winery tasting rooms, can apply for grants to cover expenses back to Feb. 15, 2020. Eligible expenses include mortgage and rent payments, wages, benefits, building outdoor eating areas, and many other categories. The size of the grants will be determined by comparing 2020 revenues with 2019 revenues.

More than $5 billion will be reserved for smaller businesses whose annual receipts were below $500,000. Grants will be capped at $10 million for restaurant groups and $5 million for individual places. Publicly traded companies or restaurants with more than 20 locations are ineligible. Wine Spectator has the full story.—Mitch Frank

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