Statement: State Senate Passes $145 Million Hospitality Industry Grant Bill
The following is a statement from Chuck Moran, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association, concerning today’s vote in the Pennsylvania Senate on SB 109, which would provide grants for small business restaurants and taverns.
Today, the Pennsylvania Senate passed SB 109, sponsored by Sen. Joe Pittman, with a bi-partisan vote of 48-0. The bill, which now heads to the State House, includes guidelines on how to use $145 million to provide grants to small business taverns and licensed restaurants by establishing the Hospitality Industry Recovery Program.
The Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association has been advocating for special grants to help small business, family-owned establishments that have been hard hit by COVID-19 mitigation orders. Financially, these establishments and their employees have suffered tremendously. For example, our average Member has 16 employees, 13 of whom have been laid off at one point during the past 10 months. And, our average Member relies most heavily on revenue from alcohol as nearly two-thirds of their sales come from such products. Those sales have been hampered by mitigation orders requiring an earlier-than-normal last call, reduced occupancy limits, and no bar top seating.
Our members need this critical funding now, and we thank the Senate for acting to help those in the industry who have been most impacted by prevention and mitigation orders during the pandemic. But hopefully, this is just the start of the General Assembly helping the many mom and pop hospitality establishments that make up the backbone of every Pennsylvania town across the Commonwealth. We now urge the State House to quickly move SB 109, so that this desperately needed funding can be made available before more of these businesses are forced to close permanently.
And, as distribution of vaccines increases, we also urge Governor Wolf to begin easing off mitigation orders that have restricted business at these establishments, particularly rules related to the use of bar tops to seat patrons. Like waiting in line at a big box store, this can be done safely using social distancing or barriers, and would help the smallest establishments that often have very few tables and no outdoor seating.
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About the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association
The Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association is a statewide association based in Harrisburg, representing small business taverns and licensed restaurants in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The Association formed in 1941, reorganized in 2019, and today advocates for best practices and rights within the industry as well as best experiences for patrons.