BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts restaurants that have struggled to stay open during the coronavirus pandemic are being offered a lifeline of up to $10 million through a federal relief program, authorities say.
The money is available through the $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund, part of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan passed last month, according to a statement Monday from U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley.
“Our restaurants are the backbones of our local economies and among the hardest hit by this public health and economic crisis," the Democrat said.
The fund will provide restaurants and other eligible businesses with funding equal to their pandemic-related revenue loss up to $10 million per business. The relief does not have to be repaid, provided that the funds are put toward eligible uses by March 2023.
Restaurants owned and operated by women, veterans, or the socially and economically disadvantaged will receive priority during the first 21 days of applications.
In addition to restaurants, other food service businesses including food trucks, caterers, bars, bakeries and brewpubs are eligible to apply.
Applications can be filed online at the Small Business Administration website.
VIRUS BY THE NUMBERS
The number of new daily cases of COVID-19 increased by more than 700 on Tuesday while the number of newly confirmed coronavirus deaths in Massachusetts rose by five.
The new numbers pushed the state’s confirmed COVID-19 death toll to 17,293 since the start of the pandemic, while its confirmed caseload rose to about 649,000.
The true number of cases is likely higher because studies suggest some people can be infected and not feel sick.
There were about 520 people reported hospitalized Tuesday because of confirmed cases of COVID-19, with about 130 in intensive care units.
The average age of those hospitalized was 61. There were an estimated 22,000 people with current active cases of COVID-19 in the state.
More than 6.3 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Massachusetts, including more than 3.6 million first doses and more than 2.4 million second doses of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.
There have been about 212,000 doses of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine administered.
More than 2.6 million people have been fully immunized.
ONLINE SNAP BENEFITS
Massachusetts residents who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits can now use their benefits to buy groceries online from participating Price Chopper stores with pickup and delivery through Instacart, the Baker administration said Tuesday.
Price Chopper joins Walmart, Amazon and Aldi supermarkets to allow the use of SNAP benefits online.
One goal of the program is to help fight food insecurity during the pandemic. The state first launched the SNAP online purchasing program in May 2020.
So far, Massachusetts residents have spent more than $51 million in SNAP benefits in online grocery purchases. The benefits can be used to purchase SNAP-eligible food online, including fresh produce, frozen foods, dairy and eggs.
“Helping thousands of families across the Commonwealth shop for healthy food in a safe way is important as we continue to navigate our way through the public health crisis and move toward a post-pandemic economy,” Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders said in a written statement.
Due to the economic fallout of COVID-19, Massachusetts has seen a historic increase in SNAP participation, up nearly 100,000 households for a total of approximately 550,000 households receiving SNAP benefits, according to Department of Transitional Assistance Commissioner Amy Kershaw.