Watch CBS News

COVID Stimulus: Newly Passed Relief Bill Too Late To Help Some Bay Area Businesses

PLEASANTON (KPIX 5) -- The second stimulus bill was signed into law over the weekend, offering cash for many Americans hit by the pandemic, extended unemployment benefits and a quarter-trillion dollar Paycheck Protection Program.

For some businesses, it will be a lifeline to keep them afloat. For others, it is too little, too late.

News of a renewed PPP loan program offered some relief at the Togo's sandwich shop in Pleasanton, where many of the nearby business parks have shut down.

"And not having those people as customers. We're down 65-70 percent," said owner Teralyn Fredricks. "So being able to use this money to keep my staff working, to keep my restaurant open, would be wonderful."

PPP loans are forgiven if they're used for essential business purposes such as salaries or rent. But businesses have to take a large financial loss to qualify.

Primo's Pizza in Danville invested a lot in outdoor dining and was a huge hit for a while…but now its outdoor venue is closed down. And because he had one good quarter, owner Drew Nichols isn't sure he will even qualify for relief.

"That feels miserable, because we did everything right: hired more people, got more people working, more people jobs; everything they wanted us to do. And now that could come back and get me," said Nichols.

But aside from the one-time relief check for COVID-impacted Americans, former California Employment Development Department Director Michael Bernick says the bigger help will be a $300 weekly supplement to the normal unemployment benefits of 1.8 million Californians.

"Too bad we've had these delays, but this is very important, both for people on unemployment insurance and, of course, for our small businesses with a $260 billion Paycheck Protection Program," explained Bernick. "So these are two very important elements in terms of at least keeping the economy here in California afloat."

As the Bay Area waits for widespread vaccinations, the federal stimulus program will be an important shot in the arm for businesses that have survived.

But many haven't, and that's causing East Bay business owner Alex Kazan to have a lot of anger over the extended political wrangling in Washington D.C.

"Look, any money you give the general public goes right back into the economy immediately: for purposes of people paying their rent, their mortgages, for food. And it's a travesty that we had to wait this long," said Kazan.

Michael Bernick says the stimulus program may prevent layoffs but warns not to expect it to increase hiring. He says that will only come when there is widespread vaccination and the schools and businesses are allowed to reopen.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.