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Harford County restaurants affected by COVID-19 eligible for $10,000 CARES Act grants

Harford County will begin offering $10,000 grants to restaurants affected by COVID-19 to help maintain operations through the end of the year, county government announced Friday.

Funds from the Winter Restaurant Relief Grant Program can be used for various expenses including commercial mortgage or rent payments, upgrades for carryout service, seating enhancements and physical barriers for social distancing, according to a news release.

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“Our newest grant program will help Harford County restaurants with everyday business expenses and the extra costs of keeping their employees and customers safe,” County Executive Barry Glassman said in a statement. “Our online application is fairly simple and we have staff dedicated to turning funding around quickly.”

With colder weather coming, there will be less opportunities for outdoor seating at restaurants, which will bring additional challenges to those business owners, Glassman also noted.

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The grants are funded by the federal CARES Act. The county will start accepting applications for the grants on Wednesday. Applications can be found on the county’s website. Frequently asked questions about the grants can also be found on the website.

Food and beverage service establishments in Harford County, including food trucks, are eligible to apply for the grant, so long as they were in operation prior to Oct. 1, 2020, and operate year-round. Restaurants may apply even if they received a prior COVID-19 business relief grant from the county.

Although the grants are being administered to help restaurants sustain operations through the the winter season, the grants do not have to be used for new expenses, according to the county news release.

The grants can be used to reimburse business owners for any qualifying expenses paid during the CARES Act coverage period from March 1 until the end of the year.

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Harford County received approximately $45 million in federal CARES Act funding, which needs to be spent by Dec. 31 or it will be returned to the federal government, county spokesperson Cindy Mumby previously told the Aegis.

As of Sept. 30, the county has spent more than $12.8 million of the CARES Act funding it received. A majority of it, nearly $7.4 million, was in grants to businesses and farms, including administrative costs.

Small business relief grants of $7,500 were given to 662 small businesses, business owners assistance grants of $5,000 were given to 396 businesses owners and Homegrown Harford farm relief grants of $2,500 were given to 52 farms, according to the data provided by the county.

The county is still accepting applications for its business grants; Mumby said the county receives about two to three new applications each day for those grants.

Outside of business grants, the county spent more than $5.4 million in CARES Act funding on coronavirus-related expenses through the end of September. Nearly $3.74 million of that was used to purchase PPE such as N95 masks, surgical masks, gowns, gloves and face shields.

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