Biden says a’stagnant’ number of restaurants have filed for pandemic relief.

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President Joe Biden promoted a clause of his $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief law aimed at supplying funds to foodservice establishments affected by the pandemic on Wednesday.

Biden outlined the Restaurant Revitalization Fund in a White House statement, which offers grants of up to $10 million to restaurants, bars, food trucks, and other food and beverage businesses to offset costs such as salaries, leases, electricity, and equipment.

“Restaurants are more than just a big economic force in our country. They are intertwined with the fibre of our societies “Biden said.

The programme was developed as part of Vice President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan, which was signed into law in March. On Monday, the Small Business Administration opened applications to qualifying companies in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and five U.S. territories, and Biden said the Small Business Administration has received a “staggering” 186,200 applications.

Under the program, the Biden administration will provide funding to cover pandemic-related revenue losses of up to $10 million. A business can receive no more than $5 million per physical location and the minimum award is $1,000.

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If funds are used for qualifying purposes until March 11, 2023, recipients are not obligated to return the funding.

According to White House press secretary Jen Psaki, there would be a “a very rapid turnaround” with the first companies received grants under the pilot projects receiving funds on Friday and businesses that started applying this week receiving funding in as little as 14 days.

For the first 21 days, the SBA would target applications held and operated by women, veterans, and socially and economically marginalised people before switching to a first-come, first-served basis.

On Wednesday, Biden paid a visit to Taqueria Las Gemelas in Washington, D.C., which he said was given $677,000 under the scheme and was the country’s first restaurant to collect funds.

Restaurants, according to the president, “are the gateway to opportunity, a key part of the American story,” for many families.

“These are families of all races, all ethnic backgrounds, all nationalities in this country and who have built their American dream around a family, a family-owned restaurant. And for more workers their own story of economic progress starts in a restaurant,” he said.

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Biden added that the nation is “relying on restaurants to play a big role in our recovery” from the economic impacts of the pandemic.”

“If we want our economy to recover the way that deals everyone in, then our restaurants need a seat at the table, no pun intended,” he said.

“That’s what we’re giving them. That’s what this program is about — a seat at the table.”

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