State Sens. Jim Brewster and Pam Iovino Thursday announced a comprehensive proposal to provide emergency relief to Pennsylvania’s restaurants and taverns, which have seen significant financial loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting shutdown. The seven-point plan includes a $100 million grant program to retail liquor licensees using federal CARES Act funds, as well as a suite of policy changes to financially benefit these struggling businesses.
The full proposal includes the following components:
1. Provide targeted assistance under the Senate Democrats’ small business assistance program to restaurants and taverns. Carve out $100 million from the remaining CARES Act proceeds to capitalize a program to provide grants for revenue and capital losses experienced during shutdown periods;
2. Increase the wholesale licensee discount for wine and spirit purchases from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) from 10% to 15% for at least nine months, with a gradual phased reduction back to 10%;
3. Waive all license renewal and permit fees paid by restaurants and taverns for one year from the date of implementation;
4. Eliminate late fees/penalties for delayed sales tax payments and allow restaurants to pay off delinquent accounts by June 30, 2021;
5. Allow licensees to expand their licensed premises outdoors to non-contiguous areas within a certain distance of the licensee;
6. Eliminate the $500 off-premises catering permit and current cap on hours/events for an off-premises catering permit during the declared state of emergency.
7. Clarify ambiguous language in business interruption insurance policies to ensure claims filed during the COVID-19 pandemic are quickly and efficiently paid to businesses (Senate Bill 1127