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Memphis News & Weather | Memphis, TN | WATN - localmemphis.com

Shelby County restaurant & hotel workers to get funding relief from COVID-19

Shelby County Commission passes measure that will put $1000 in the pockets of hospitality workers

MEMPHIS, Tenn — Danielle Inez is Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris' Chief of Staff.

"We've heard from residents across the county. They immediately began calling about these funds. They're desperate to receive this benefit. I think that's very, very clear to all of us," said Inez.

With the Mayor, the Urban League and worker union's, Inez worked on the $2.5 million relief plan for Shelby County restaurant and hotel workers hit hard by pandemic fallout.

"For many of them $1000 will aid in paying their rent, utilities and some food at a time when their hours are being cut because of a reduction in tourism an the inability for the public to dine-in at pre-pandemic levels," said Inez.

Commissioner David Bradford was the first voice his lack of support then Commissioner Amber Mills and Mick Wright...the same commissioners who protested alongside restaurant workers against the health department.

"I was just going to say that I agree we need to help the restaurant workers and others who are going to benefit from this, I'm just not in favor of where this money is coming from, but I'm not going to be able to support it based on where the money is coming from," said Bradford.

"I never wanted them to stay open to see them shut down, but this to me is the perfect example of how government is completely broken. Government breaks it, in this case shuts down restaurants, small businesses and then tries to fix it by taking tax-payer dollars out of fund balance to assist the people who were hurt by the action taken by the government in the first place," said Mills.

The thousand dollars for each worker is coming from the county's general fund, leaving a balance of $74-million dollars.

Commissioner Tami Sawyer says that's exactly what rainy day funds are for.

"So when we are talking about the failing of government, Yes, government has failed, but where government has failed is at a national and state level. We did not receive a national coordinated response. We did not receive any type of effort that would make our public have faith that the government was going to take care of this," said Sawyer.