U.S. restaurants ask Trump, Congress for $455b bailout

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McDonald’s outlet: One of the U.S. restaurants

U.S. restaurants on Wednesday asked President Trump and congressional leaders for at least $455 billion in aid to help them weather the coronavirus crisis, saying the industry could shed nearly half of its 15.6 million jobs and a quarter of annual sales.

Restaurants could take a $225 billion hit over the next three months, equal to a quarter of their projected 2020 sales of $899 billion, the Washington D.C.-based National Restaurant Association (NRA) said on Wednesday.

State and local officials are trying to slow the spread of the respiratory illness that has infected more than 7,300 nationally and killed 118 Americans.

As food service establishments are forced to close or shift operations to delivery, pickup and drive-thru only, the industry could lose as many as 7 million jobs, the NRA said in a letter addressed to President Donald Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Because every dollar spent in a restaurant generates additional $2 elsewhere in the national economy, the broader economic impact could be a loss of $675 billion, the NRA said in the letter.

Nine in 10 restaurants have fewer than 50 employees and operate on thin margins and little extra cash flow.

Executives from McDonald’s Corp, Restaurant Brands International Inc, Yum! Brands Inc and other big fast food chains met with Trump and White House officials on Tuesday about a rescue package.

The NRA is requesting immediate access to cash through a $145 billion Restaurant and Foodservice Industry Recovery Fund, as well as $100 billion of federally-backed business interruption insurance, $135 million of disaster unemployment assistance, $45 billion of loans, $35 billion of federal community block grants and tax reforms.

“This is a public health crisis that needs a public response,” Sean Kennedy, the NRA’s executive vice president of public affairs, said in a phone interview. “We want to make sure we have an economic lifeline… We cannot do that on our own.”

New York’s Union Square Hospitality Group, which operates more than 20 restaurants, said on Wednesday it would lay off 80% of staff, about 2000 people.

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