SEATTLE — A coalition of Seattle restaurants called on lawmakers for “significant and immediate financial relief,” warning many food establishments may not otherwise survive the coronavirus pandemic.
Seattle Restaurants United launched a change.org petition Sunday asking city, state and federal legislators for more relief measures in addition to several already in place. As of Tuesday morning, the petition had more than 8,000 signatures.
“Our beloved retail/restaurant community will change dramatically,” the alliance said in the petition. “Seattle’s soul and spirit will be shattered, damaging a brand that makes our city a top choice for a talented resident workforce, scholars, and business and leisure tourism.”
Last week Gov. Jay Inslee temporarily shut down bars and restaurants to dine-in patrons in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus. Restaurants are allowed to serve take-out, but some have shut down altogether or reduced hours as a result of the virus.
To aid struggling businesses, Seattle put a moratorium on small business and non-profit evictions during the pandemic, expanded the small business stabilization fund to give grants to cover shortfalls and deferred B&O taxes for businesses that have annual taxable income of $5 million or less.
However, Seattle Restaurants United says these measures won’t be enough. In addition to those moves, Seattle Restaurants United asked for:
- Rent abatement for businesses and workers
- Increase unemployment insurance from 66% to 80%
- Waive interest and principal payments on Small Business Administration loans for 90 days
- Create an emergency fund for utilities including electricity, natural gas and water
- Mandate insurance policies that cover business interruption include lost sales
- Increase cap on Small Business Administration funds to $10 million.
- Ensure the Small Business Administration guarantees all its loans
- Add a 90-day deferral for excise tax
"Investing in us is a direct investment in the people that live and work in our region, and it’s the people, not large corporations, who will suffer the most from this pandemic," the coalition said.