THUMBS UP: The pandemic is still affecting local restaurants and food establishments around Carroll County, even with the most recent lifting of social distancing restrictions. But we’re glad to see county officials maintain an effort into helping those businesses stay afloat. The Board of Commissioners voted unanimously last week to approve the Maryland Relief Act of 2021 funding, which will award $612,281.26 to Carroll County food and beverage providers. The Restaurant and Caterers COVID Relief Grant Program is designed to support Carroll County food and beverage providers facing continued financial impacts from COVID-19, according to a county government. Director of Economic Development Jack Lyburn told the commissioners during the April 15 open session that 149 restaurants had applied for the last round of funding. Unlike some grants that direct money for specific purposes, there is flexibility with this funding. “You can use it for payroll, mortgage, rent, utilities, information technology, marketing, employee training, commercial cleaning, professional services, vehicle equipment expense … so this is wide open,” Lyburn said. The plan is for restaurants with 10 or more employees to receive $8,000, restaurants with fewer than 10 employees to receive $4,000 and food trucks to receive $3,000. All application information, including terms, eligibility, and qualification criteria, in addition, to fund uses, required documentation and grant dollar amounts are available on the Department of Economic Development’s website. To apply, businesses can submit a complete and accurate application with all required supporting documentation online through Friday, April 30 at 4 p.m.