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Morgan Freeman joins fight to save restaurants amid pandemic in powerful new ad

[Aug. 3, 2020: ABC News]



The RESTAURANTS Act would provide $120 billion for the restaurant industry.


The Independent Restaurant Coalition tapped one of the most recognizable voices in entertainment to capture America's attention and help shine a spotlight on the dark reality of what's at stake for bars and restaurants in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.


Oscar-winning actor Morgan Freeman narrates a poignant new television ad released by the IRC on Monday that calls for help from Congress and the public as restaurants are "facing extinction."


His powerful track lines begin over restaurant sounds diners used to hear regularly -- laughs, clinking glasses, line cooks calling orders, music -- juxtaposed with images of restaurants that have shuttered during shutdowns across the country due to coronavirus.

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Nearly 16,000 restaurants have closed permanently due to the pandemic, Yelp data shows.


The video, produced by Emmy Award-winning chef and TV personality Andrew Zimmern's production company, Intuitive Content, concisely details how the pandemic has disproportionately decimated independent bars and restaurants.


Throughout the 58-second clip, Freeman talks about the 16 million people employed by independent restaurants who face uncertain employment prospects as the pandemic enters its sixth month.



"The COVID-19 crisis threatens to permanently close 85% of independent restaurants -- 16 million people risk losing their jobs -- disproportionately impacting people of color and single mothers," Freeman says over a video of workers from all walks of life, from farmers to wait staff, in masks. "One in four people who lost their jobs during the pandemic were restaurant workers."


"Without your help, our favorite places to eat will be gone forever," Freeman continues before urging viewers to "tell Congress to pass the RESTAURANTS Act now."


The latest public appeal to Congress comes as H.R. 7197 the RESTAURANTS Act of 2020 gains momentum in both the U.S. House and the Senate.


The legislation -- which was first introduced in June by Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., alongside Reps. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore. (3rd Congressional District), and Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Ps. (1st Congressional District) -- would create a $120,000,000,000 Restaurant Revitalization Fund "to provide structured relief to food service or drinking establishments" through the end of the year. The funds would also prioritize grants to marginalized and underrepresented communities and businesses that make less than $1.5 million a year.


Over 165 members of Congress have co-sponsored the bill that would ultimately protect 16 million people employed by independent restaurants.


"Restaurants have lost more jobs and revenue than any other economic sector because of COVID-19," Sen. Wicker wrote on Twitter in his post with the new ad.... Read More