Assistance for the Restaurant Industry in Maryland
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MARYLAND RESTAURANT RELIEF PROPOSAL
We are asking for restaurant servers, bartenders, owners and kitchen teams to sign the following petitions, to show our solidarity to local representatives, and Governor Hogan. We believe this is the bare minimum that must be done to preserve the restaurant industry in Maryland and the Baltimore metro area.
Emergency Mortgage Forbearance and Rent Forgiveness
Applicable by March 25th, to accommodate payment due April 1 and beyond.
Mortgage forbearance due to hardship in the face of disaster has precedent: The Fannie Mae Disaster Extend Modification https://www.fanniemae.com/portal/funding-the-market/mbs/news/2017/disaster-relief-extend-modification-110217.html is applicable and appropriate immediately.
Landlords will need to be ordered to accept a rent collection freeze. This will accommodate non-homeowner. Eviction is not an appropriate alternative.
Emergency SNAP Benefits
People also need to have food on their table. In past crises, we may have been able to rely at least somewhat on things like soup kitchens, churches and community centers, NGOs, etc to feed people en masse. Obviously, anything that entails the phrase “en masse,” is totally out of the question here. We propose to enact Emergency SNAP benefits to let people buy food at local establishments where occupancy limits can more realistically be utilized to ensure safer social distancing.
Emergency Employment Opportunities
We know that this will take time for people to find new jobs, for business owners to get back on their feet and begin hiring, so we need sufficient and immediate Emergency Unemployment Benefits to all hospitality workers. Additionally, once this crisis has cleared, we propose and would like the state and city officials to facilitate hiring fairs and opportunities for those who are out of work to assist in quick and efficient rehiring of trained hospitality workers. We also ask for for safeguards be put in place for any potential discrimination of employees based on their political, religious, or cutlural affiliations or beliefs.
Benefits need to be available immediately to all restaurant and catering business staffs. GIven the Presidents’ shutdown, the restaurant and catering industry shifted on March 16th. Benefits should be made available effective March 16th. Laid-off staff for restaurants serving curbside service should also be able to apply to unemployment benefits.
Financial Planning Assistance
As this had completely disrupted people’s lives, we ask that FREE financial planning assistance be put in place for all affected workers and owners who must navigate this chaotic time.
RESTAURANT OWNERS CONCERNS:
Sales Tax Payments
Sales tax is and will be owed by affected businesses, both state & local. A policy of forgiveness should be considered. An appropriate option could be a credit to the business, or eschew remitting sales taxes for a given time. Distribute as assistance to their workers/ anyone who has worked for them in the affected 4, 6 or 8 weeks.
Liquor Tax Payment
Liquor distribution companies owe taxes due within 15 days of delivery. Presently payment from the restaurants is already delayed to distributors. Extend the window of payment, and charge no late fees
Given the current COVID climate, staff are serving carryout and delivery, with possible exposure and may need care. They are also the ones working and desperately holding off on making the call to close. With the uncertainty of when they will close, they should not be penalized if they miss the cut off date of April 15th to sign up for Maryland Health Benefits. Please extend the sign up period and provide assistance to individuals, both owners and employees who can no longer afford to pay for healthcare due to lack of or reduced income. Mental health is an additional concern and requires care. Our industry needs coverage through MEDICARE or MEDICAID, or additional source. When we are ready to resume business as normal, we need our staff to be healthy and ready to work.
Anyone taking out a loan to raise capital to reopen their business should be able to receive these loans at no interest. The businesses that choose to reopen and secure SBA loans cannot afford the additional expense of interest rates as they try to recover, support displaced employees, and begin serving their communities again.
Liquor License Renewals
Liquor license renewals are due April 1. Reset a new date for compliance, effective 4 weeks after business is able to resume in Maryland.
Performers, musicians, marketing and web designers, small farms, etc all work and are related to the restaurant industry, but are self-employed. We need direct assistance for these people who are also affected indirectly by this crisis. The Governor’s office could compile this information through event production companies, restaurants, bars, music venues and others and asking for batch lists of those who they’ve paid. Culture Bearers could then check the list for their name, and apply for immediate, emergency cash assistance. We should set a financial goal per claimant and then build the fund as quickly as possible. For instance, if there’s 1,000 people on that list and the determination is they each need $1500, the fund goal needs to be minimum $1,500,000. Without them, we’re just a city with a lot of potholes and old houses-- they deserve our city & state’s help.
Additional Cash Grants
The adjustments listed above will help but not solve the financial assistance required. Consider reallocating money from other areas of our state budget or working with local foundations or fast tracking 501-C3 designations to organizations to begin granting money to individuals and businesses alike. Apply that money to local industry workers, restaurants, and rebuilding our cultural infrastructure.
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