While the battle over whether Anchorage restaurants can remain open under Mayor Ethan Berkowitz’s Emergency Order 15 heats up, Berkowitz has submitted to the Assembly a resolution requesting funding for a $7 million tourism and hospitality industry relief program.
The state has allocated nearly $157 million in CARES Act funds to the city in three payments – $117 million, $20 million and third, $20 million. Each of the last two payments is contingent upon 80 percent spending of the previous payment.
Berkowitz, facing a sticky political wicket as some eateries have balked at obeying his order to shut down inside dining, is asking the Assembly, slated to meet today in a special session at 1:30 p.m., for $7 million “to be distributed to eligible small businesses and/or employees impacted
30 by COVID-19.”
The mayor is asking for a first CARES Act disbursement of $5 milllion, with another $2 million when the city receives its second payment from the federal funds. The disbursements would be distributed “either directly by the MOA or by a nonprofit partner,” the resolution stipulates.
The $7 million is a start, we suppose, in aiding industries crippled by COVID-19 and efforts to thwart the virus, but whether it will put out the economic and political fires Berkowitz’s emergency orders have ignited remains to be seen.