Virginia’s restaurant, tourism leaders urge Northam to create relief fund for hospitality industry

Group also pushing for indoor dining, beaches reopening in Phase One

ROANOKE, Va. – Leaders in Virginia’s restaurant, lodging and tourism industries are calling on Gov. Ralph Northam to use the state’s federal funding to create a COVID-19 relief grant fund until businesses in their industries can fully reopen.

The Virginia Restaurant, Lodging and Travel Association (VRLT) sent a letter to Northam on Monday.

The letter, which was signed by VRLT president Eric Terry, expressed the association’s discontent with Northam’s Phase One portion of Virginia’s reopening plan, which limits restaurant openings to outdoor dining (at a reduced capacity) only.

[Here’s a breakdown of what Phase One will look like in Virginia]

The association wrote, “This approach seems to run counter to your intent which is avoid ‘picking winners and losers.’ Virginia restaurants who do not currently offer outdoor dining are certainly the 'losers’ in the first phase of reopening.”

The group urges Northam to consider allowing restaurants to have the option to offer indoor dining while following physical distancing requirements.

In their letter, VRLT leaders also stated they were “perplexed” that Northam did not allow beaches to open, while Maryland and North Carolina opened their beaches. They also urged Northam to allow beaches to reopen in Phase One of Virginia’s reopening.

VRLT leaders call on Northam to use federal funding to create a COVID-19 relief grant fund to help hospitality and tourism businesses until they can fully reopen.

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