Passersby walk past an empty restaurant in September in Boston. (Steven Senne/AP Photo)
UPDATED 9:20 AM PT – Thursday, January 6, 2022
Congress is exploring new COVID-19 relief programs for small businesses amid renewed pandemic worries. On Wednesday, officials said Republican Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Democrat Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) are crafting a measure aimed at supplying restaurants with additional federal aid.
This comes as speculation of yet another lockdown grows amid a surge of the highly contagious, but reportedly mild, Omicron variant. During Wednesday’s White House press briefing, Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked about the possibility of a new relief package for the food and beverage industry.
“Well as you know, we did a major relief package that included restaurants just last year,” she explained. “We are in constant discussions with Congress and leadership about the needs of the American people — whether they are small businesses or restaurants or people sitting in their homes — as we continue to fight the pandemic, but don’t have any new prediction or new pending requests or specific requests and wouldn’t predict that at this moment in time.”
The White House maintains it has the resources to respond to any disruptions caused by the latest variant, however, it remains unclear what these disruptions could be.