Updated August 21, 2020 - 1:49 pm
More than a dozen local restaurateurs and other food and beverage pros took part in a Zoom conference with Rep. Susie Lee on Thursday to discuss the various coronavirus-related crises they’re confronting, and pending legislation meant to address them.
Lee, who represents Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District, spent just over an hour speaking with representatives of local businesses such as CraftHaus Brewery, Honey Salt, Valencian Gold, Tealet Tea Room, Jolt Coffee Company, Mint Indian Bistro, Graffiti Bao, Partage and Hussong’s Mexican Cantina, as well as the Nevada Restaurant Association, the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group and restaurant supplier Nicholas and Company.
She began the call by referencing expansions to the PPP Act (which she later admitted had included “a screwed-up process”), the $3 trillion HEROES Act (which she described as “stalled”) and the Save Our Restaurants Act (which she is co-sponsoring). From there, Lee asked participants to share thoughts on various issues before Congress, including the proposed extension of unemployment benefits.
The restaurateurs brought up several issues they hoped Congress would address, including relief from local licensing fees, incentives to landlords encouraging rent flexibility, assistance with PPE and other health-related expenses, and the denial of business interruption insurance claims.
One encouraging note from Lee was a prediction that new technologies, such quick saliva-swap COVID-19 tests, could help businesses reopen fully before a successful vaccine is developed and deployed.
“Think about it,” Lee said. “Think about our casinos. Think about our professional sports facilities, our convention halls, our concert halls. If you could test people as they come in, and be assured that people are going to be able to attend those and be safe, that’s what is going to open up our economy.”
Lee’s most persistent theme, however, was encouraging participants to lobby elected officials across the country to pass the HEROES Act.
“Enlist your friends, family across the country, for them to contact their senators and their representatives,” Lee implored everyone. “There is no more eloquent of a voice to a member of Congress than one of their constituents.”