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Grant Applications Open Soon for Michigan Restaurant Workers Impacted by Indoor Dining Restrictions

Applications open on Friday, January 15, with the opportunity for impacted workers to receive up to $1,650 in financial assistance

Five plastic tent domes sit on the back courtyard patio outside of Qahwah House in Dearborn.
Plastic domes at Qahwah House in Dearborn.
Razi Jafri
Brenna Houck is a Cities Manager for the Eater network. She previously edited Eater Detroit and reported for Eater. You can follow her on the internet at @brennahouck.

Applications are opening soon for a $45 million fund designed to provide financial assistance to people in Michigan’s hospitality industry who’ve been impacted by the latest indoor dining shutdown. Any employees who worked within the qualifying industries can apply to receive up to $1,650 through the program.

The Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Educational Foundation (MRLEF), a branch of the Michigan Restaurant & Lodging (MRLA) tradegroup, is assisting with processing grant applications for the program, which was funded through Senate Public Act 257 in late-2020. Anyone who worked in restaurants, bars, banquet halls, bowling alleys, cafeteries, casinos, catering, food trucks, golf courses, lodging businesses, nightclubs, theaters, and similar recreational facilities that were impacted by the November 18 epidemic order can qualify.

Applications for the program will open online at 9 a.m. on Friday, January 15 and stay open through 5 p.m. on Monday, January 25. The grants are not first-come, first-serve, meaning people won’t have to rush to fill out an application and crash the website (Good!). However, applicants must show proof of residency in Michigan, proof of employment in an impacted industry on Wednesday, November 18, and proof that they experienced an economic hardship such as a furlough, layoff, reduction in hours, or other type of job loss.

Michigan bars and restaurants have been closed for indoor dining and some forms of outdoor service since November 18. While some of the COVID-19 epidemic order restrictions have been lifted for certain settings like movie theaters and casinos, restaurant dining rooms remain closed through at least Friday, January 15.

While many workers and business owners agree that closing in-person dining was the safest measure to reduce the spread of novel coronavirus in Michigan, the partial shutdown came at a particularly difficult time when many benefits were running out for unemployed and underemployed workers. Congress did eventually agree to a short-term round of stimulus with $600 checks, but the amount was significantly less than many needed to pay bills, buy food, and afford rent.

Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Educational Foundation Application Site [MRLEF]
A Guide to Michigan Organizations and Businesses Offering Support to Restaurant Workers [ED]
Michigan Extends Indoor Dining Closure Through January 15 [ED]
Gov. Whitmer Unsure Whether Michigan’s Ban on Indoor Dining Will Extend Past January 15 [ED]