BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Sen. Ed Markey held a virtual meeting on Saturday morning with restaurant owners and people in the food industry to discuss the challenges they have faced over the coronavirus pandemic.
Since March 2020, restaurants across the country have gone through many drastic changes.
Restaurants were forced to shut down, focus solely on takeout and delivery, and/or limit dining capacity.
“As a restaurant owner, we didn’t know what was happening,” said Melvin Lockett, who owns Khi and Eli’s Food for the Soul in Holyoke and Springfield.
While Lockett was able to keep his business open, he and his team focused on takeout and delivery.
Not all small business owners were able to get financial support during the shutdown.
“We weren’t able to access PPP,” Bob Luz, president and CEO of the Massachusetts Restaurant Association, said.
However, with the passage of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package, thousands of Massachusetts restaurant owners are hopeful for the future.
“Massachusetts is going to get the help it needs for our restaurants,” Sen. Ed Markey said on the call.
Markey stated that $28 billion will be distributed as grants to small businesses nationwide, but believes that hundreds of millions will be coming to Massachusetts directly.
Massachusetts's restaurant industry took a massive hit during the pandemic, furloughing over 255,000 workers.
Still, according to Luz, almost 90,000 people have yet to be recalled to work.