Cartwright seeks relief for NEPA tourism

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HARRISBURG, PA — As members of Congress struggle to find common ground in drafting the next piece of coronavirus relief legislation, Rep. Matt Cartwright (PA-08) is calling for better relief for hospitality industry businesses and workers, he said during a recent virtual meeting with five NEPA restaurant owners and managers. 

Included in the conversation was Justin Genzlinger, CEO of the Settlers Hospitality Group in Wayne County. Genzlinger said that the relief through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) “came and went” before many in the restaurant or hospitality industry were able to reopen. 

“It didn’t really add any working capital to the business to help recover from the loss,” he said, asking Cartwright to consider “a second bite of the apple” in terms of PPP for businesses that were restricted from operating while in the red phase.

He also told the congressman about his concerns that outdoor dining will only be a viable option during the summer, and that he’s concerned about a loss of working capital in the colder, shorter days of fall and winter.

“It’s not whether we think we can be viable in the long run, it’s getting to the long run,” he said.

Based on federal data, it is estimated that U.S. restaurants experienced $120 billion in losses between the months of March and May. Those losses have resulted in more than 8 million restaurant employees being laid off or furloughed, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Cartwright discussed his support for the Restaurants Act, which would create a $120 billion restaurant stabilization grants program to be available through the rest of 2020.

Cartwright also highlighted key provisions for the industry included in the Heroes Act, which includes modifications to PPP: extending the loan “covered period” end date from June 30, 2020 to December 31, 2020; loan forgiveness reductions will be “held harmless” for some employers who can show an inability to rehire or find “similarly qualified” employees before December; and authorizing an additional $10 billion in grants to small businesses that have suffered financial losses as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

The Restaurants Act has been introduced to the House. The Heroes Act has passed by the House, the Senate has not yet voted on the bill.

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