December 2020 COVID-19 Relief Bill
On December 27th of 2020, President Trump signed Congress’s $900 billion dollar COVID-19 relief bill into law. This legislative package includes $600 relief checks for many, aid for small businesses, and enhanced unemployment benefits for jobless workers.
Restaurants that have managed to stay open will hopefully find reassurance of their survival in December’s COVID-19 relief bill. The legislation allows restaurants to access a second draw from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) at a 3.5x monthly payroll, and permits businesses to deduct allowable business expenses paid with PPP loans, including payroll, rent, mortgage interest, utilities, and other expenses. The Employee Retention Tax Credits (ERTC) will also be available for the first two quarters of 2021, and will allow eligible employers to take up to $7,000 per eligible employee that remains on the payroll during those quarters.
For Illinois restaurants, this bill is desperately welcomed. The National Restaurant Association (NRA) has aggressively lobbied the federal government for pandemic relief. Part of its strategy included conducting a state-by-state survey to illustrate the dire straits that restaurants continue to grapple with. This survey, conducted from November 17 to 30 of 2020, recorded responses from 6,000 restaurants and 250 supply chain businesses, including those located in Illinois. Based on this survey, the NRA estimates that, as of December 1st, 17 percent of dining and drinking establishments (more than 110,000 businesses) are completely closed, either on a temporary or permanent basis.
Many of those shuttered restaurants are located in Illinois, and are near and dear to our hearts. Some mainstay establishments that have closed include Chinn’s 34th Street Fishery in Lisle, Leonard’s Bakery in Northbrook, Old Town Restaurant in Lemont, Louie’s Chophouse in Oak Lawn, The Truth in Joliet, Cake Box Bakery in Arlington Heights, Wildwood in Geneva, and Lawry’s in Chicago.
On January 18th of this year, two Illinois regions, Regions 2 in north-central Illinois, and Region 5 in the southern part of the state, have been cleared to move into Tier 1. This designation allows for eased restrictions on large restaurants and bars, where they may now seat up to 25 customers in a room.
Please contact the business and commercial law attorneys at Bruning & Associates, P.C. at 815-455-3000 to schedule your complimentary consultation to discuss how the new COVID-19 relief bill may impact your business.