Most small business owners in the U.S. believe the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic is still ahead of them, with half saying their business would permanently close within a year unless the economy improves, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said on Tuesday.
U.S. officials expanded the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine to more healthcare workers and high-risk individuals last week in an effort to inoculate the general public by late Spring. However, while the vaccine is slowly becoming more accessible, many small business owners think they will be hit the hardest in coming months.
A new U.S. Chamber-MetLife poll of small businesses taken from Q4 found that 74% of the owners said they need further government assistance to weather the pandemic. That percentage rises to 81% for minority-owned businesses. On top of that, 14% of owners say that they are likely to cut staff, which is even higher than the April level of 13%.
“We must ensure small businesses across the country receive the assistance they need from the federal government,” said Neil Bradley, the Chamber’s chief policy officer. “Not passing the bipartisan compromise for temporary and targeted relief risks the permanent loss of tens of thousands of small businesses, financial hardship for millions of Americans, and unnecessary delays in combating the pandemic.”
Outdoor dining, an activity that has become incredibly popular over the course of the pandemic, will likely decrease as Americans try to escape the cold weather this winter. Unfortunately, that will leave restaurants and bars with much lower sales than usual as American attempt to avoid crowded indoor areas.
Yesterday, Congress finally reached a deal on a $900 billion Covid-19 economic relief package. This includes $600 direct payments to Americans and $300 in enhanced unemployment for the next 10 weeks.
The bill will assist businesses by providing more than $284 billion in loans through the Paycheck Protection Program. There are also benefits for small business owners, including $12 billion for minority-owned and very small business, plus $15 billion for theater operators and small venue owners through Save our Stages Act.
Once Congress came to the agreement, democrat and republican officials both expressed relief and confidence in their decision.
“We have surmounted the final largest hurdle and an ending is in sight,” said Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA). “Let’s get the job done together for the sake of the American people.”
The House and Senate will vote today on the bill.