On February 23, 2021, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a legislative package of six bills providing relief to individuals and businesses experiencing hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of these measures are directly targeted towards the restaurant and hospitality industry.
Small Business Grant Relief
The new measures provide $2.1 billion in small business grants of up to $25,000. This is a significant increase over the $500 million that was initially approved for these grants in November 2020.
Grants are available only for businesses and nonprofits with gross annual revenue of $2.5 million or less (based on the most recent tax return or Form 990, as applicable). Revenue is determined based on the IRS tax form definition of “Gross Sales” (less any returns and allowances) as reported on tax documents.
Grant funds do not need to be repaid and may be used for employee expenses, working capital expenses incurred before March 1, 2020, costs associated with COVID-19 safety protocols, and business reopening expenses. Additional information is available here.
Waiver of Liquor License Renewal Fees until 2023
SB-94 directs California's Alcoholic Beverage Control to waive renewal fees for liquor licenses that expire between March 1, 2021, and February 28, 2023 for licenses that were active between March 1 and December 31, 2020. The bill states that its purpose is to “provide economic relief to licensees most severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.” The provisions apply to any business that manufactures, distributes or sells alcoholic beverages, which includes restaurants, bars, liquor stores, wineries, breweries and distilleries. SB-94 is an urgency statute and became effective when it was signed on February 23, 2021.