The $900 billion federal pandemic relief bill expected to be passed by Congress today includes help for many grappling with unemployment and food and housing insecurity, but resistance from Republican Senators prevented the RESTAURANTS Act from being added to the bill. As we previously reported, these Senators resisted any attempts to include grants for hard-hit, independent restaurants in the relief bill.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, who has been working tirelessly to pass the RESTAURANTS Act, characterized the deal as providing much-needed “emergency aid” with tough times destined to drag on. But, he vowed to continue fighting for the aid needed: “Anyone who thinks this is enough does not know what’s going on in America and has not looked into the eyes of a small business owner, a restaurant owner losing their business. We must do more under [incoming] President [Joe] Biden.”

Changes are being made to the Payroll Protection Program to make it more useful for restaurant owners. We’re awaiting the final bill text, but we understand that the changes will broaden the allowable uses of the loan funds and make it easier for restaurants to qualify to have the loans forgiven – essentially making the loan a grant.

We’ll update this post with more details on the revisions to the PPP program as soon as available and we’ll continue the battle into the new year. Covid, unfortunately, isn’t being left behind in 2020, so our efforts to sustain the industry through Covid must continue in 2021 as well.