State Sen. Paul Sarlo Urges ‘Payment Holiday’ for Restaurants, Bars

State Sen. Paul Sarlo urged New Jersey’s banking industry to extend a “payment holiday” to the state’s bars and restaurants, which are struggling under the public health emergency.

Sen. Sarlo noted the state’s bar and restaurant industry were ordered to shut down as the coronavirus pandemic worsened. Additionally, many members of the industry were among the 15,000 people who filed unemployment claims March 23.

Sarlo noted the closures were in the best interest of the state and its citizens, but the damage to one of the state’s largest industries would be difficult to shrug off. He urged banks to work together to develop a uniform policy which would allow them to stay in business after the pandemic had eased.

Permanently Unemployed

“If these restaurants and bars go bankrupt and don’t reopen when conditions allow, thousands of our residents will be permanently unemployed,” Sarlo said, who is the Senate Budget and Appropriation Committee Chairman,.

Specifically, Sen. Sarlo called upon the Bankers Association and other banks based in New Jersey to proactively act in the face of the pandemic. He recommended a two-month holiday on payments for mortgages and lines of credit during the course of normal business.

Sarlo said it was ultimately a smart business move, too.  “A payment holiday is a smart move for banks, because getting paid two months late is better than never getting paid if these restaurants and bars go bankrupt,” he said.

No Insurance Coverage

The senator wanted to initiate a discussion with insurance companies regarding coverage during the pandemic, saying most restaurant and bar businesses didn’t have coverage for interruptions, and those that did were not covered for public health emergencies.

“I want to initiate a dialogue with the Insurance Council of New Jersey, the New Jersey Restaurant Association and the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance to find ways to provide coverage for a business that is lost during this health emergency. I am willing to facilitate these discussions so that we can find cooperative solutions,” he said.

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