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Source: NY restaurants, bars could get $10M in aid under pandemic relief bill

WASHINGTON — New York restaurants and bars could get up to $10 million to cover lost revenues caused by the pandemic under a $25 billion grant program in the COVID-19 relief bill still being negotiated, a source close to Sen. Chuck Schumer said Wednesday.

The final details in a national grant program that will benefit New York and Long Island eateries are still being finalized, but Schumer, the Brooklyn Democrat and Senate majority leader, spoke to President Joe Biden about the measure when they met Wednesday.

The pandemic and restrictions aimed at limiting the spread of COVID-19 have battered the restaurant industry in New York.

More than 8,000 New York restaurants have closed — including about 4,500 in New York City alone — and 85% of those still operating reported revenue losses, the New York State Restaurant Association said in December.

On Long Island, across-the-board losses in the leisure and hospitality sector were the biggest factor in the region's slower job growth, Shital Patel, labor market analyst in the Labor Department's Hicksville office, told Newsday last week.

Patel said employment in the leisure and hospitality sector is nearly 31% lower than a year ago.

The federal $25 billion program would be operated by the Small Business Administration.

Food service and drinking establishments that are not part of a chain or franchise, with 20 or more locations with the same name, would be able to apply for funds to make up for losses in revenue as high as $10 million from 2019 to 2020, the source said.

The program would be open to a variety of eateries, including restaurants, food stands and food trucks, caterers, bars, taverns, lounges and generally licensed facilities where the public can get a meal or drink.

The Democratic majority in the House and Senate is pushing through budget measures in preparation for a process called reconciliation which would allow them to pass Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill without Republican votes or a Republican filibuster requiring 60 votes to end.

Ten Republican senators met with Biden this week to discuss their $600 billion package, less than a third of what Biden has proposed. Schumer said the bill must be bold and passed as quickly as possible.

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