As the U.S. sees unprecedented numbers of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations
, health experts maintain that indoor dining is a high-risk opportunity for transmission. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults who tested positive for the coronavirus are “twice as likely”
to have dined at a restaurant two weeks before reporting symptoms. Therefore, dozens of states have put restrictions on in-person dining in place — restrictions that restaurateurs say are suffocating the industry without additional financial support.
Oakland County is freeing up funds to support as many as 1,000 restaurants and bars with stabilization grants to support businesses impact by the recent surge.
The $10 million Oakland Together Restaurant Relief Program will use $7 million of Oakland County’s federal CARES Act funds and $3 million from the county’s general fund to help restaurants hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic and a reduction in business.
“Our local restaurants and their workers are important parts of our community and we wanted to step forward once again during this recent surge of COVID-19 cases to help stabilize their operations,” Oakland County Executive David Coulter said in a statement. “This is one of the last programs using our CARES Act funds which is why it is important for Congress to approve additional relief. This virus is not going away, and we need additional resources for recovery, COVID mitigation, and vaccine preparation.”
The $10 million program is divided into three categories:
• $7 million will be divided among the approximately 1,000 businesses that earlier received stabilization, recovery, or restart grants from county CARES Act funds. The businesses were already vetted during an earlier application and don’t have to reapply. Checks will be sent to them automatically. The funds can be used to cover expenses for perishable food, rent, mortgage payments and labor costs. Under the terms of the CARES Act, the county must spend the funds by Dec. 30.
• $2 million from the county’s general fund will be used to help some restaurants and bars adapt their facility for outside service. The county is acquiring 8-foot by 12-foot greenhouse-type structures, electric heaters, propane heaters, propane, and other items to expand outside dining options no matter the season.
• $1 million to help businesses reopen safely. The county will acquire personal protective equipment, hand sanitation stations, and computer software which businesses can use to contract trace customers who have been or may have been exposed to the COVID-19 virus.
The county is partnering with local chambers of commerce and downtown development authorities to distribute the grant-funded items.
Interested restaurants and bars owners can go to oakgov.com/covid
beginning Dec. 15 to get further information as to which local organizations will be distributing the items. The program expires March 31, 2021, or when the funds are exhausted.
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