$793 COVID-19 Relief Checks in the Mail for 55,900 Hospitality Industry Workers

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Originally published in Crain’s Detroit Business.

The Michigan Department of Treasury on Wednesday started mailing $793 checks to hospitality industry workers whose hours were cut or jobs were eliminated in late 2020 during a state-mandated shutdown of restaurants, casinos, and entertainment venues.

More than 55,900 workers will receive an employee assistance grant as part of a $45 million bipartisan appropriation the Legislature approved in December, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s office said.

Workers applied for the COVID-19 relief grants Jan. 15-25 and the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association Educational Foundation processed applications for the state.

The aid was designated for workers in hospitality and recreation businesses that were shuttered or saw reduced customer traffic as a result of the fall surge in COVID-19 infections and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ shutdown orders in mid-November.

Applicants were required to submit the name of their employer, a pay stub from early November, or a letter from the employer stating that their job was affected by MDHHS epidemic orders.

In mid-December, the Republican-controlled Legislature passed a $465 million pandemic spending plan, including relief payments of $55 million to businesses and $45 million to workers struggling to stay afloat during the pandemic.

The $45 million appropriation was originally meant to provide up to $1,650 to hospitality industry employees who were laid off or had their hours cut in the fall shutdowns, but that would have limited it to about 27,300 recipients.

“These dollars provide assistance for the hardship experienced during these extraordinary times,” Justin Winslow, President and CEO of the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association, said in a statement.

Workers from the following businesses qualified for the one-time grants:

  • Bars
  • Banquet halls
  • Bowling alleys
  • Cafeterias
  • Casinos
  • Caterers
  • Food trucks
  • Golf courses
  • Gyms and fitness centers
  • Hotels, resorts, motels, bed and breakfast inns
  • Nightclubs
  • Restaurants
  • Theaters
  • Other recreational facilities

“This special grant program puts dollars in the pockets of Michiganders who work in hospitality, entertainment, recreation, accommodation, and food services sectors — as well as the gym and fitness sectors,” Gov. Whitmer said in a statement.

The $793 grants are taxable income, but do not count toward income for calculating unemployment insurance, according to a state website.


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