By Sarah Downey

With summer winding down and lawmakers in Washington set to resume COVID-19 economic stimulus talks, businesses in Texas are hoping the next round of relief can be resolved quickly.

Circumstances increasingly call for urgency, Kelsey Erickson Streufert, vice president of Government Relations & Advocacy at the Texas Restaurant Association (TRA), told The Center Square.

“It’s certainly something we’re very concerned about; before the pandemic restaurants made up 51 percent of food dollars in Texas,” Streufert said.

While not every establishment is on the precipice right now, if Congress can’t deliver additional relief soon, many mom and pops won’t have the means to survive past the end of September, Streufert said.

“We know restaurants can’t sustain the kind of losses they’re experiencing without some sort of bridge relief,” she said.

Restaurants continue to urge targeted liability protections, Streufert said.

“It’s very difficult, if not impossible, to prove where you got Covid; the biggest thing they lack right now is certainty,” she added.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, it’s not just restaurants facing losses but a whole supply chain that’s adversely impacted.

“The losses we’ve seen affect millions of Texans – it impacts farmers and ranchers, the suppliers who connect us with farmers and ranchers, the trucking companies, the linen companies, technology systems – every part of that ecosystem has been decimated in this crisis.” Streufert said.

While Texas’ COVID-19 case numbers have seen gradual improvement, a long road lies ahead.

“We are not out of the woods yet, so many small businesses could have to close their doors,” Streufert said. “We’ve got to invest in another round of relief so we can outlast this pandemic as an economy.”

In the COVID era of normalcy, political courage and will to prioritize relief for small businesses is paramount, Streufert said.

“It’s an avoidable crisis, and investment now will pay tenfold later,” Streufert added.

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