Delaware Vote Tracker

COVID Relief Bill for Bars and Restaurants Passes the House

It’s not direct financial assistance or rent relief, but House Bill 1 allows bars and restaurants to continue using outdoor dining and to-go alcohol sales until March 2022. On Wednesday, the House passed House Bill 1 by a vote of 40-0-1.

The legislation, sponsored by Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf, extends the temporary provisions established last year that are currently set to expire at the end of March 2021. The bill now goes to the Senate, where it has been placed in the Senate Banking, Business & Insurance Committee.

In 2019, restaurant and food industry jobs in Delaware totaled 50,800. Between February and April 2020, Delaware lost 66% of its food or drink establishment jobs, one of the highest rates in the nation. Further, bars and restaurants in Delaware lost more than $160 million in sales in April 2020 alone, with the food service industry losing an estimated $700 million between March and July. Revenue from restaurant gross receipts last year dropped to less than half of 2019 receipts.

House Bill 1 SponsorsYes VotesNo Votes
Schwartzkopf, Bush, Bennett, Brady, Chukwuocha, Gray, Griffith, Longhurst, Lynn, K.Williams, M.Smith, Hensley, Spiegelman, YearickBaumbach Bennett Bentz Brady Bush Carson Chukwuocha Cooke Dorsey Walker Griffith Heffernan K.Johnson K.Williams Kowalko Lambert Longhurst Lynn Matthews Minor-Brown Mitchell Morrison Osienski Moore Schwartzkopf Wilson-Anton Briggs King, Collins, D.Short, Dukes, Gray, Hensley, M.Smith, Morris, Postles, Ramone, Shupe, Smyk, Spiegelman, Vanderwende, YearickBolden (absent)
Brown, Paradee, Poore, Sokola, Walsh, Lopez, Hocker

“Restaurants and bars have been among the hardest-hit industries during the pandemic. It’s only through their own ingenuity and creativity, and assistance we have been able to lend them that has kept many businesses afloat,” said Speaker Schwartzkopf. “The outdoor dining and to-go cocktails options have been extremely popular and have allowed restaurants and bars to serve patrons safely. These innovations are about to expire, but we are not on the other side of this crisis yet. This bill will give the hospitality industry another year of flexibility to keep their doors open.”

“The impact of this pandemic on Delaware’s restaurant industry is being felt by Delaware residents from Claymont to Delmar,” said Senator Darius Brown, the Senate prime sponsor of HB1. “Our hospitality industry provides a stable source of income to single mothers, people working multiple jobs and Delawareans who might otherwise struggle to find employment elsewhere. These are the very people most at risk during this public health crisis. This legislation will hopefully help restaurants across our state keep workers on their payroll longer and add new jobs sooner as we begin to come out of this crisis.”

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