Dear Governor Evers:
In the last month you have had to make very difficult decisions to keep us all safe from the coronavirus pandemic. Your Safer at Home Order issued on March 24th has helped to keep us safe and flatten the curve. Taverns and restaurants have been effectively shut down since the March 17th Executive Order. While we understand the need for the Executive Orders they have caused severe economic hardship to the hospitality industry. Supper clubs, taverns and restaurants will have been closed to regular business for 38 days when the Safer at Home Order expires on April 24th.
No businesses have suffered during the pandemic more than the hospitality industry. Since March 1, the restaurant and tavern industry in the U.S. has lost more than three million jobs and $25 billion in sales. Despite the aid offered by the CARE Act, Laurent Grandet, an analyst at investment banker Guggenheim, estimates that 20% of bars and restaurants won’t reopen. Overall, Moody has revised its 2020 forecast for industry sales from a 2% to 4% growth to a 10% decline. Estimates that once fully calculated, the unemployment rate within the hospitality industry will exceed the rate during the Great Depression of 24.9%.
The impact is even greater in Wisconsin given the number of licensed premises. On premise retailers provide over 120,000 jobs and contribute over $5 billion to the state’s economy generating millions in tax revenue and license fees at the federal, state and local level.
The safety of our customers, employees, family and friends is of our utmost concern as we prepare to welcome them back to our supper clubs, restaurants and taverns on April 24th. Today, thousands of businesses are currently operating safely under the Safer at Home Order. It is critical the thousands of businesses in the hospitality industry and our employees get safely back to work.
We want to coordinate our efforts with you and Secretary Palm to ensure we have a statewide uniform standard in place to continue to practice social distancing to protect our employees and customers. This process is already working well at the thousands of businesses that remain open in Wisconsin during the Safer at Home Order. Wisconsin’s hospitality industry is ready to safely welcome back our customers.
Our Members understand the role they were called on to help defeat this virus. However, there is no sugar coating the fact the tremendous economic toll it has taken on the industry and its employees, many are at the end of their economic rope.
The hospitality industry needs a financial bridge to survive. Wisconsin received $1.9 billion under the CARE Act to help repair our state’s economy. The hospitality industry did its part to help keep people safe during this health emergency and now the state must step up and do its part to help small business survive this economic calamity.
We need your help. Using a small portion of the CARE Act revenue, we urge you to establish a tax free $25,000 Hospitality Bridge Grant for Wisconsin’s supper club, tavern and restaurant owners. The $25,000 grant represents an average of lost revenue for 38 days under the Executive Orders. The Hospitality Bridge Grant will allow supper clubs, taverns and restaurants to pay their bills and stay in business while continuing to provide jobs and contribute to the local state and federal tax base.
We are thankful for the thousands of health care workers on the front lines fighting this pandemic. The importance of their work and the steps you have taken have helped to effectively fight this deadly virus in Wisconsin. With the April 24th expiration of the Safer at Home Order two weeks away the employers and employees of the hospitality industry are ready to get back to work. With the financial help of federal and state government the hospitality industry can continue to be a strong component of Wisconsin’s economy.
Chris Marsicano, President