Birds of a feather: Gov. Wolf and state Dems CHIRP about COVID Hospitality Relief Program for Pa. Counties

This Week in Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Governor Tom Wolf was chirping on Tuesday about CHIRP, the COVID Hospitality Relief Program. The Governor admits it’s not nearly enough and concedes it comes too late for many businesses that have closed for good.

COVID’s cruelty hit one industry especially hard, but the state is serving a tasty dish. $145-million spread across 67 counties and grants between $5 and $50,000. None will be made whole, but they’ll start digging out of one.

“We know it’s been hard for these restaurants and we know it’s been hard for the industry but this money really comes across and helps,” Rep. Joe Ciresi (D-Montgomery) said.

Restaurants must apply for the free money. But otherwise, no strings are attached.

“It’s basically saying you need help. You need financial help,” Gov. Wolf said.

But critics are chirping that it was Governor Wolf’s shutdown orders that caused the crisis. They also wonder when he will lift capacity restrictions and let people have a drink at the bar.

Gov. Wolf says soon, but not yet.

“The question is how fast can we move in a safe manner to get back to normal,” Gov. Wolf said.

Rep. Ciresi says there is an ongoing effort among state Democrats to open up Pennsylvania once again.

“We’ve been working with the Governor and the Governor’s office and the legislators to get the state back to work and get people back to where they need to be to open these businesses,” Rep. Ciresi said.

Normal is not yet on the menu, but everyone’s craving a heaping helping.

Grants will be awarded at the county level and applications will be available by March 15. Each Pa. county must apply to receive the grant money.

Program guidelines are available on DCED’s website.

Priority will be given to applicants that:

  • Have not received a loan or grant issued under the authority of the commonwealth or the commonwealth’s political subdivisions or by the federal government;
  • Were subject to closure by the Governor’s disaster declaration; or
  • Can demonstrate one of the following:
    • A reduction in gross receipts of 50 percent or more for the period beginning after March 31, 2020, and ending before December 31, 2020, in comparison to the period beginning after March 31, 2019, and ending before December 31, 2019.
    • If the eligible applicant was not in operation during the entire comparison period but was in operation on February 15, 2020, a monthly average reduction in gross receipts of 50 percent or more for the period beginning after March 31, 2020, and ending before December 31, 2020, in comparison to the period beginning after January 1, 2020, and ending before April 1, 2020.

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