A Washington, D.C., restaurant owner who protested in front of Congress Monday said she is saddened by “irresponsible” lawmakers who mandate strict coronavirus protocols while not providing relief to her beleaguered industry.
“It makes me sad because I think that everyone knows that restaurants are the hub of entrepreneurship, they’re the hub of small business, and they also employ obviously hundreds of millions of people,” Centrolina D.C. owner Amy Brandwein told “Fox & Friends First.” “So I think that to mandate that we have to follow certain protocols, which we all want to do, and then not give us a targeted way to do that is irresponsible.”
Brandwein was one of dozens of protesters who placed empty plates in front of the U.S. Capitol on Monday to call attention to inaction on aid to restaurants and bars. The plates featured names of people who had been laid off or establishments that have closed due to pandemic restrictions.
“It was a little bit somber in terms of seeing all the people show up and place a plate in the name of someone who’s lost their job or a restaurant you know and love that’s closed,” she said. “It was really touching and I think it’s something for everyone to think about.”
Industry members are pushing Congress to pass The Restaurants Act, which would create a $120-billion fund for independent restaurants, bars, and cafes. The money would go to payroll for employees making less than $100,000 a year and provide funding for mortgages, rent, protective equipment, food, and supplies.
Dozens of D.C. bars and restaurants have shuttered in 2020 due to the pandemic as the district imposed lockdown orders, and dining room limitations.
Republicans and Democrats are still negotiating over the second round of coronavirus relief nearly nine months after passing the first one, and the Restaurants Act is not part of the recently floated $908-billion package. Brandwein said members of Congress love to patronize their restaurants but don’t understand what makes them work.
“We need stimulus funds now and we need them with the least amount of strings possible,” she said.