Miami-Dade Allocates $35 Million of CARES Act Money to Help Struggling Restaurants

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Amid the coronavirus pandemic, on-site dining at Miami-Dade restaurants is limited to outdoor seating.

Photo courtesy Villa Azur

With the rise in COVID-19 cases in Miami and national news outlets comparing our city to Wuhan at the start of the pandemic, businesses are suffering.

The hospitality industry is particularly hard hit. Restaurants are subject to increasingly stringent operating rules as the virus continues to spread, bars remain closed, restaurants are limited to outdoor seating for on-site dining, and a nationwide curfew at 10 p.m. remains in effect.

To ease growing financial pressures on Miami’s restaurant owners and workers, the Miami-Dade County Commission yesterday passed a resolution establishing a $ 35 million business grant program to support the hospitality industry as part of Coronavirus Aid 2020. Law on Relief and Economic Security (CARES). The money comes from the $ 474 million Miami-Dade received from the federal government under the CARES Act. All funds must be used by December 30th, 2020.

The resolution was put on the agenda by Commissioner Dennis C. Moss and unanimously approved by the Board.

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The support is available to “local, independently run and operated restaurants and non-home caterers affected by the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic”.

The mayor’s office has 30 days to provide the commissioners with a written report detailing a plan to liquidate the $ 35 million. Once implemented, the mayor must submit a written report on the payment of the money to the board every 60 days.

The resolution provides $ 5 million of the grand total for the Hospitality Industry Relief Fund, established earlier this year by the South Beach Wine & Food Festival (SOBEWFF) and Florida International University (FIU) Chaplin School. According to SOBEWFF founder Lee Schrager, the fund has paid out $ 1.5 million so far.

In a text to the New Times, Schrager says the county’s $ 5 million allocation is due for a vote by the Miami Dade Commission next Tuesday. “But we have every reason to believe that we will be approved in the same way as the $ 30 recently,” writes Schrager.

Schrager added that he was working on the legalities of the FIU, a state university receiving funding from the CARES law, but was confident the bureaucracy would not get in the way.

This story will be updated with more information as the county clarifies how restaurant owners can apply for the grant money.

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