“Restaurants… are central to Seattle’s soul,” said Jessica Tousignant, executive director of Seattle Restaurants United. “The COVID-19 pandemic is crippling our small business community, and local restaurants and bars are doing their part to stem the spread of the virus as we all endure this unprecedented challenge.”

On Friday, December 4th, Seattle city officials acknowledged that sacrifice by announcing a $5 million stimulus plan for hospitality workers and businesses, every one of which has been heavily affected by the pandemic shutdowns. According to a written statement from the office of Mayor Durkan, half of the grant money will be dispensed to small businesses, specifically restaurants and bars, and the other half awarded to hospitality workers who have been impacted by the shutdowns.

“These emergency grants are intended to provide a lifeline to small businesses and workers most recently impacted,” Durkan said in the statement. She went on to call for the U.S. Congress to follow Seattle’s lead, in moving forward with a new national economic stimulus aid package.

“Every day they fail to act,” she continued, “more small businesses close their doors for good, and more workers lose their job.”

For small businesses, the city will choose recipients from applicants who have applied to the existing Small Business Stabilization Fund. There were 1,100 applicants for the last round of SBSF grants, which are similarly intended to keep small businesses open.

For hospitality workers, the grants will be in the form of cash assistance for those who have been financially impacted by COVID-19, either by layoff or a reduction in hours. Amounts will be based on need, up to $1,000. Those who are in danger of losing their housing will be eligible for additional assistance.

If you are a Seattle business owner or hospitality worker impacted by the pandemic, the Seattle Office of Economic Development is offering support to those applying for the grants. For assistance, call 206-684-8090 or send an email to oed@seattle.gov soon.

Image: Erika Fletcher via Unsplash

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