The coronavirus pandemic has killed 2.21 out of every 1,000 South Dakotans and 1.71 out of every 1,000 Americans (and let’s stop that number from climbing: wear your mask, keep your distance, and GET YOUR SHOTS!!!). The pandemic has been even more lethal to restaurants: one national survey from March finds that 102 out of every 1,000 restaurants have closed for good since coronavirus broke out in the U.S. Food trucks have taken the hardest hit in the industry, with 22.5% shutting down, while fast food joints have held their pandemic closure rate to 9.8%. Mid-sized chain restaurants have seen higher closure rates than independent diners. Restaurants serving French food have shut down at twice the rate of burger joints and Thai places.
And even though Delaware imposed a 30% occupancy limit on restaurants and a public mask mandate, Delaware has the lowest rate of restaurant closure in the nation at 8.2%. (Joe and Jill must have ordered a lot of take-out for their Wilmington campaign staff.)
To keep the remaining 89.8% of America’s restaurants open and maybe bring back a few of those lost, we’ve got socialism! President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan includes a 28.6-billion-dollar Restaurant Revitalization Fund which the Small Business Administration will dole out in chunks of up to $5 million for individual eatery locations and up to $10 million for multi-site businesses, including…
- Food stands, food trucks, food carts
- Bars, saloons, lounges, taverns
- Snack and nonalcoholic beverage bars
- Bakeries (onsite sales to the public comprise at least 33% of gross receipts)
- Brewpubs, tasting rooms, taprooms (onsite sales to the public comprise at least 33% of gross receipts)
- Breweries and/or microbreweries (onsite sales to the public comprise at least 33% of gross receipts)
- Wineries and distilleries (onsite sales to the public comprise at least 33% of gross receipts)
- Inns (onsite sales of food and beverage to the public comprise at least 33% of gross receipts)
- Licensed facilities or premises of a beverage alcohol producer where the public may taste, sample, or purchase products [Small Business Administration, “Restaurant Revitalization Fund,” retrieved 2021.04.21].
Restaurants that have permanently closed are not eligible; you still have to be slinging hash for this cash. And for the first three weeks of the program, SBA is only processing applications from priority groups:
- A small business concern that is at least 51 percent owned by one or more individuals who are:
- Women, or
- Veterans, or
- Socially and economically disadvantaged (see below).
- Applicants must self-certify on the application that they meet eligibility requirements
- Socially disadvantaged individuals are those who have been subjected to racial or ethnic prejudice or cultural bias because of their identity as a member of a group without regard to their individual qualities.
- Economically disadvantaged individuals are those socially disadvantaged individuals whose ability to compete in the free enterprise system has been impaired due to diminished capital and credit opportunities as compared to others in the same business area who are not socially disadvantaged [SBA, 2021.04.21].
The SBA says all that socialism will help support South Dakota’s tourism industry:
According to SBA South Dakota District Director Jaime Wood, thousands of South Dakota restaurants and bars may be eligible for the RRF funds that can be used for economic recovery and for preparing for the high-traffic South Dakota tourism season ahead.
“Our restaurants and bars faced disruptions to the work force, supply chain, and being temporarily closed over the past year – all of these factors reduced revenue for many establishments,” said Wood. “We’re rapidly and widely reaching to organizations and small businesses across the state to make sure RRF information gets to every community and we highly encourage businesses to prepare to apply” [South Dakota District Office of the SBA, press release, Brookings Register, 2021.04.20].
Don’t expect Governor Noem or any of her friends in the South Dakota restaurant business to denounce these free lunches. They can’t avoid the political and economic reality made clear by the coronavirus pandemic: we must rely on socialism to sustain the economy and civil society when capitalism cannot function safely.