National Restaurant Association Asks Congress To Replenish RRF

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The National Restaurant Association or NRA has urged the U.S. Congress to refill the Restaurant Revitalization Fund or RRF, which is expected to save more than 1.6 million jobs in the restaurant industry hit hard by the surge in Omicron Variant.

In a letter to Congress, the association highlighted, based on its survey on 4,200 restaurant operators, the devastating impact so far on the industry caused by the omicron variant.

It also highlighted that the initial financial help had saved more than 900,000 jobs. The funding also helped 96 percent of recipients of a grant stay in business.

Sean Kennedy, executive vice president for Public Affairs at the NRA said, "The new data show that restaurant recovery is paralyzed and nowhere near complete. The restaurant industry is at an inflection point, and we need your leadership now more than ever. Congress must act now, to replenish the RRF in the upcoming legislative package to fund the government.... The decisions you make in the coming weeks will be critical toward the future of the restaurants..."

According to the Association, the RRF was a critical lifeline to many, but far more remain on the sidelines, desperately looking for support amidst continued economic uncertainty.

As per the survey, nearly 50 percent of restaurant operators that did not receive RRF grants feel it's unlikely that they will stay in business beyond the pandemic without a grant.

Further, 94 percent of restaurant operators that applied for an RRF grant, but did not receive funding, said a future grant would enable them to retain or hire back employees.

The latest surge in Covid cases forced restaurants to reduce hours/days of operation, cut seating capacity, and shutdown, amid the deteriorating consumer confidence. This has resulted in lower sales volumes in 2021 than in the pre-pandemic 2019.

As per the survey, 88 percent of restaurants experienced a decline in customer demand for indoor on-premises dining in because of the omicron variant, while 76 percent of operators report that business conditions are worse now than three months ago. Further, 74 percent say their restaurant is less profitable now than it was before the pandemic.

Recently, many major U.S. cities restricted entry at indoor facilities such as restaurants, gyms, music venues and theaters only to those who are vaccinated.

Earlier in October, NRA in a letter to the U.S. Conference of Mayors suggested that expanded outdoor dining was the need of the hour for the restaurant industry to sustain the winter.

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