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Posted on: January 11, 2021

Mayor Lee Harris’ Update Regarding the Need for Local Restaurant Worker Relief

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I think we all recognize that our local restaurant and hospitality industries have been hard hit during the course of this pandemic. That’s why, over the last several weeks, we have partnered with several members of the Shelby County Board of Commissioners to create our new local restaurant relief program, Share the Tab II. This new program would get $1,000 relief checks into the hands of hundreds of restaurant workers impacted by COVID-19.

The Share the Tab II restaurant relief program builds on the original Share the Tab program, which provided relief to owners of limited service restaurants, like bars and nightclubs, who had to close their doors for weeks through no fault of their own.

We hope we meet this moment, as it is surely needed.

Although dining rooms are still technically open, the fall surge of COVID-19 has forced our community, like virtually every other community around the country, to implement additional protections. It has forced consumers, like our family, to make different decisions about eating out. As a result, this industry has borne a very steep cost and endured unbelievable hardship.

We were hopeful there would be federal action, in this latest round of stimulus negotiations, to specifically support this industry or to support state and local governments, which could, in turn, help the industry. Unfortunately, that did not happen. Now it’s all on us, at the local level.

We know that Memphis and Shelby County are known for delicious cuisine, including great barbecue and soul food staples that ordinarily draw millions to our restaurants and our county each year. We must always remember that it is the workers – hostesses, line cooks, servers, bussers, and others – who contribute to our global recognition for great service and indisputably good food. As our local restaurant workers face reduced hours and lay-offs for the safety of our community, we should make an earnest effort to provide a $1,000 relief benefit when they surely need it.

Today, January 11, the Shelby County Board of Commissioners will have another opportunity to discuss this program and vote to allocate the funds necessary to provide a local stimulus that could reach up to 2,500 restaurant workers.

Thank you to the following Commissioners who have already committed to support restaurant worker relief, including Chairman Eddie Jones, Commissioner Tami Sawyer, Commissioner Willie Brooks, Commissioner Van Turner, Commissioner Mickell Lowery, Commissioner Reginald Milton, and Commissioner Michael Whaley. We have a long road ahead as we strive to vaccinate 70% of our population against the coronavirus. Until then, we must all do whatever we can to help keep our families whole and our economy stable.

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