Here’s how you can get financial relief in the wake of COVID-19 restaurant closures

COVID19: Financial Relief for Restaurant Closures

as your restaurant, club or other foodservice operation been ordered to temporarily close in the wake of the coronavirus? If this hasn’t happened to you yet, it might be coming soon. We know this will have extreme and immediate economic and staffing ramifications. Here at ACF, we put together a list of business and financial resources that might help provide some relief. Click here for the full list of COVID-19 resources.

Low-Interest Loans

The U.S. Small Business Administration’s newly released Coronavirus (COVID-19) Small Business Guidance and Loan Resources report details an Economic Injury Disaster Loan program that allows small business owners in the following states to apply for a low-interest loan due to Coronavirus (COVID-19): California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Utah, and Washington. Click here to apply.

The SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program provides small businesses with working capital loans of up to $2 million that can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing. For more information, visit

Also, check out the SBA’s Lender Match, a free, online referral tool that connects small businesses with participating SBA-approved lenders.

Local relief programs

Depending on where you are located, many state restaurant associations are working with local and federal officials to advocate for relief programs. The Illinois Restaurant Association, for example, is working the state and federal government to ramp up those efforts. If you haven’t already, consider signing up for email updates from your state restaurant association to stay abreast of updates.

Unemployment Claims 

Illinois and California Governors have issued an Executive Orders suspending the one-week waiting period for unemployment insurance claims. Check with your state government to see if there have been any updates to unemployment and disability claims processes.

If you’re unable to work due to having or being exposed to COVID-19 (certified by a medical professional), at least in the state of California, you can file a Disability Insurance (DI) claim. DI provides short-term benefit payments to eligible workers who have a full or partial loss of wages due to a non-work-related illness, injury, or pregnancy. In California, benefit amounts are approximately 60-70 percent of wages (depending on income) and range from $50-$1,300 a week.

Paid Sick Leave

President Donald Trump has signed a coronavirus relief package that includes free testing and paid emergency sick leave. The new legislation will provide workers with up to two weeks of paid sick leave if they test positive or are being treated for coronavirus. Those who have been told to stay home by a doctor or government official because of symptoms are also eligible for those payments, which are capped at $511 a day.

Workers with family members affected by coronavirus and those whose children’s schools have closed are able to receive up to two-thirds of their pay, though that benefit is limited to $200 a day.

Paid Family Leave 

If you’re unable to work because you are caring for an ill or quarantined family member with COVID-19 (certified by a medical professional), or if you have children at home from school that you need to care for, you might be able to file a Paid Family Leave claim. Here is an example.

Work Sharing Programs 

In California, employers experiencing a slowdown in their businesses or services as a result of the coronavirus impact on the economy may apply for the UI Work Sharing Program. This program allows employers to seek an alternative to layoffs, such as retaining their trained employees by reducing their hours and wages that can be partially offset with UI benefits. Workers of employers who are approved to participate in the Work Sharing Program receive the percentage of their weekly UI benefit amount based on the percentage of hours and wages reduced, not to exceed 60 percent. Check with your local government to see if they have a similar program. Here is more information about California’s program.

Potential Closure or Layoffs 

Also in California, employers planning a closure or major layoffs as a result of the coronavirus can get help through the Rapid Response Program. Rapid Response teams will meet with you to discuss your needs, help avert potential layoffs, and provide immediate on-site services to assist workers facing job losses.

Legal firm Hinshaw & Culbertson has developed a two page guide of frequently asked questions operators related to unemployment and layoffs during the COVID-19 crisis. Click here to download the guide, which includes definitions of temporary lay-off, permanent lay-off, furlough, and more. Note, this information is provided as a service for restaurant operators, and is not intended as legal or professional advice or counsel. Any local, state, or federal rules, regulations, or laws summarized are subject to change, so readers are encouraged to consult with their attorney prior to taking action.

Tax Assistance 

The federal government is considering suspending payroll taxes for businesses. Individual states may already be offering tax extensions. California is offering employers experiencing a hardship as a result of COVID-19 the opportunity to request up to a 60-day extension to file their state payroll reports and/or deposit state payroll taxes without penalty or interest.

Federal Relief Recommendations

The National Restaurant Association is working alongside all state restaurant associations to urge the federal government to immediately pass a wide array of financial relief measures for restaurants and their employees.

The Association, which forecasts sales declines of $225 billion and a loss of up to 7 million jobs during the next three months due to the pandemic, asked the Treasury Department for a $145 billion recovery fund for restaurants and employees. The proposal, currently in review by Congress, includes recommendations for a number of tax measures, mortgage grace periods, business interruption insurance, loan forgiveness and more as well as suspensions of any government mandates set to come into effect in the next two months.

Here’s a quick snapshot:

  • $100 billion in business interruption insurance backed by the federal government
  • $130 million in disaster unemployment assistance
  • $35 billion in community development block grants for disaster relief
  • $45 billion in expanded access to affordable loans
  • 2% temporary Social Security payroll tax cut

In the coming days and weeks, ACF will be posting news and updates at surrounding the coronavirus crisis. We will also be posting updates, links to resources and more through our Facebook page, ACF Chefs, as well as creating a special group, #ACFUnited, to open up the lines of communication and help each other with ideas, connections and resources.

Relief Funds 

National Restaurant Association Restaurant Employee Relief Fund – offering a $500 grant for all restaurant employees. Check with your state restaurant association for additional grant opportunities.

James Beard Foundation Relief Fund – offering grants for restaurant workers. Fund temporarily suspended due to overwhelming demand.

Restaurant Opportunities Center United – offering grants for all restaurant workers.

Another Round, Another Rally – offering a $500 grants for all restaurant workers.

One Fair Wage – offering grants to all restaurant workers.

Southern Smoke – offering grants to all restaurant workers.

CORE (Children of Restaurant Employees) – grants for families in the hospitality industry.

One Hope – offering grants to mothers in the hospitality industry

The Greg Hill Foundation – offering grants to hospitality workers in Massachusetts

Golden Rule Charity – offering a job search platform.

Modest Needs – crowd-funded donation service for all restaurant workers.