Mass House of Representatives Passes Bill to Support Restaurants

The following is a press release submitted to SOURCE media.

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FRAMINGHAM – State Representatives Carmine Gentile, Jack Patrick Lewis, and Maria Robinson joined their House colleagues in passing legislation that provides more tools to the Commonwealth’s restaurants in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, measures intended to help restaurants better weather this economic crisis.

The legislative package adopted yesterday, June 3, aims to assist a sector that has been hard hit by COVID-19.

It re-purposes the Restaurant Promotion Commission created by the House last session as the Restaurant Recovery Commission and builds on the previous actions of the House to aid restaurants by permitting alcohol delivery with meals as well as its focus on restaurants as an anchor on main streets.

The bill now goes to the Massachusetts Senate.

“Since early in the pandemic, we have heard from restaurants who are struggling to stay afloat; some restaurant owners in my district have already made the heartbreaking decision to close permanently. This bill will assist our neighborhood restaurants, allowing them to make a full recovery after this difficult period that they navigated with great flexibility and strength,” said State Rep. Maria Robinson. (D-Framingham).

The legislation streamlines the Alcohol Beverage Control Commission (ABCC) approval process for restaurants to establish outdoor seating by waiving the approval of these licenses, instead requiring restaurants to notify the ABCC of their outdoor seating plan and place it on file.

It also allows temporary suspension of some relevant local zoning laws on outdoor seating if cities and towns wish to do so.

“The restaurant industry is a vital part of our local economies, contributing to our towns’ thriving culture and our local economy,” said Rep. Jack Lewis. “As we all adapt to the new realities of this pandemic, I hope that local municipalities will join the Legislature and business leaders in adopting new policies to support this important industry.”

The bill also waives interest and late penalties for restaurants on their meals tax payments until December 2020, allows restaurants to include cocktails to-go with take-out food until February 2020, and caps commissions on on-line restaurant delivery at 15% across the board so that these apps can continue to operate without placing an undue burden on restaurants.

“Our restaurants have been hit very hard during the COVID-19 emergency closure,” added Rep. Carmine Gentile. “This legislation brings them welcome relief and shields consumers from exorbitant third-party delivery charges. Families are looking forward to dining safely outside again!”

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