The US Senate passed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which includes US$28.6 billion worth of grants for the hospitality sector.
Passed by 50 votes to 49, the US$1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act includes emergency legislative measures to fund vaccinations, provide relief to those affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, and supports American communities.
Under the legislation, the US$28.6bn Restaurant Revitalization Fund will support restaurants, bars, tasting rooms, licensed facilities or other premises operated by alcohol producers.
The fund is in addition to the US$120bn Real Economic Support That Acknowledges Unique Restaurant Assistance Needed To Survive (Restaurants) Act. This act would also support independent bars and restaurants across the US and was reintroduced to Congress in February.
Under the American Rescue Plan Act, the Restaurant Revitalization Fund will provide up to US$5 million in grants for individual venues, and up to US$10m for hospitality groups.
Grants may be used for payroll, mortgage or rent payments, utilities, maintenance expenses, supplies, food and drinks expenses, supplier costs, operational expenses and paid sick leave.
Initially, grants will also be prioritised for bars and restaurants operated by people of colour, women and military veterans. The act will also see 20% of the funding awarded to businesses that took less than US$500,000 in 2019.
To be eligible for support under the new legislation, venues must not be part of a hospitality operator with more than 20 locations.
The American Rescue Plan Act has been welcomed by trade group the Distilled Spirits Council of the US (Discus), which said the nation’s “restaurants, bars and distilleries are in desperate need of relief”.
In a statement, Discus said: “Restaurants, bars and distilleries have been absolutely devastated by the Covid-19 pandemic, and the Restaurant Revitalization Fund will provide critical funding for these businesses as they work to get back on their feet.
“Specifically, hospitality businesses will be able to use the US$28.6 billion in grants to keep the lights on and provide good-paying jobs. Our nation’s restaurants, bars and distilleries are in desperate need of relief, and this bill is a great place to start.
“We will continue to advocate for full funding of the Restaurants Act to provide restaurants, bars and distilleries the relief they need to recover and rebuild for a brighter future.”
After passing the Senate, the act will now return to the US House of Representatives for approval, before being signed into law by president Joe Biden.