At a restaurants’ meeting at Drift 82 in Patchogue last week on a discussion regarding unfair treatment by the State Liquor Authority on local restaurants, congressman Lee Zeldin expressed that he is in favor of a second round of aid through the Payment Protection Program, which helped small businesses fund their payroll and other necessary expenses for eight weeks earlier during the pandemic.
“If you are a gym, you are just starting to barely open in New York next week,” Zeldin said to a group of about 50 restaurant owners and other elected officials. “I believe that there should be another round of PPP money. There should be more flexibility for it.”
Zeldin explained that the money issued through the PPP beforehand generated financial stability for countless local businesses. Furthermore, he proposed to pounce on the next opportunity to financially support businesses that are still struggling.
“I believe that it would be helpful in this next coronavirus bill that is being negotiated to include more PPP money [and] more flexibility, especially for the businesses that got hit the hardest,” he said.
On the topic of an upcoming bill, Zeldin made note that an enhanced unemployment insurance — similar to the additional $600 per week given to those on unemployment during the beginning of the economic shutdown — is currently being pushed. Zeldin announced that he is opposed to this brand of federal aid.
“There are people who are confidently saying that there is no one in America who is staying at home and capable of going out to work, but staying home because they are getting paid more because of their enhanced unemployment. The person is actually embarrassing themselves when they are making that argument because that just means that they are not talking to business owners,” Zeldin said, adding that the feedback is uni- versal, regardless of political leaning, that businesses are having trouble getting people back from unemployment. Zeldin specifically plugged the community health center on North Ocean Avenue in Patchogue as a business that has fallen victim to this phenomenon.
“If there are honestly people who do not have a job to go back to, they are trying, and they have bills to pay, then we are all in this together. We all get it, whether you are a business owner or an employee. That is why you are talking about PPP,” Zeldin said.
Zeldin also announced the proposition of another aspect to the upcoming COVID-19 legislation: in addition to providing federal aid to businesses through PPP loans, he suggested the possibility of business liability protections.
“I think that it is important for you all to be able to [not] fear that, all day every day, with every single person coming in and out of your door, you are exposing yourself to lawsuits,” he said.
Several other elected officials were at Drift 82 last Wednesday morning and also proposed additional government involvement, particularly regarding how the State Liquor Authority polices businesses. Zeldin’s endorsement of additional aid through PPP is not guaranteed to pull significant weight, but his position in the House of Representatives as well as his party registration may hold some gravity.