The U.S. Senate unanimously passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, the $2 trillion stimulus package to aid the public health and economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill passed the House early Friday morning and was signed into law by President Trump later that day.
Of import to the beer industry, the stimulus package includes the following:
- Emergency grants of $10,000 for small businesses that have applied for Economic Injury Disaster Loans from the Small Business Association (SBA);
- SBA loans for businesses with fewer than 500 employees and the ability to have forgiven the portion of those loans that was used to cover payroll, rent or mortgage and utilities;
- A retention tax credit for companies that keep workers on payroll during the pandemic while those businesses are completely or partially closed or businesses whose receipts have declined 50% or more compared to this quarter last year;
- The postponement of employer payroll tax payments over the next two years;
- Unemployment benefits to self-employed workers, independent contractors and those with limited work history;
- And a temporary excise tax exemption for alcohol used to produce hand sanitizer.
“We hope this piece of federal legislation will be a major step in your recovery, and subsequently, in rebuilding the economy,” Brewers Association president and CEO Bob Pease said in a statement. “We will update you as the situation evolves.”
COVID-19-related shutdowns have severely affected craft brewers and the bar and restaurant industry.
“Restaurants and employees have been community lifelines during the coronavirus crisis — all while dealing with a catastrophic cash flow crunch, massive layoffs, and in too many cases, total shutdowns,” National Restaurant Association executive vice president of public affairs Sean Kennedy said in a statement.
“We applaud President Trump and bipartisan congressional leaders in crafting a relief bill that gives unique recovery options to the restaurant industry. This measure is an important first step to help restaurants weather the storm, take care of our employees, and prepare for when we are given the signal to open our doors once again,” he continued.