Applications to open for gym, restaurant grants

REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage

Later this week, gyms and restaurants in Philadelphia will be able to apply for thousands of dollars in grant money from a city-sponsored fund.

The $12 million program, announced Friday, is aimed at providing a lifeline to small businesses that were closed as part of restrictions city leaders imposed in November to curb the rise in cases of the novel coronavirus.

Beginning Thursday at 11 a.m., eligible restaurants and gyms can submit forms for grants of up to $15,000, officials said. The application window ends Tuesday, Feb. 9.

Businesses must have experienced a 25% drop in revenue and have pulled in less than $2 million annually prior to the pandemic to qualify for the program. They also have to be independently-owned and up to date on their taxes.

Officials said the fund is not first-come, first-serve, and businesses in high poverty areas, located on neighborhood commercial corridors and owned by racial minorities, women or people with disabilities will be prioritized.

Another priority will be restaurants and gyms that were damaged as a result of civil unrest, according to the city.

The money can be used for basic costs, such as rent payments or payroll. Officials are encouraging businesses to look into using it for ventilation improvements, outdoor winterization and other COVID-19-related expenses.

Gyms in Philadelphia were allowed to reopen Jan. 4 with limited occupancy and masking requirements, and restaurants were permitted to resume indoor dining at 25% capacity Jan. 16.

Anyone with questions about the program can call 215-683-2100 or email The application will be available at

Two pandemic unemployment programs that expired last month have been renewed and payments should begin going out this week, state officials said over the weekend.

The renewed Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program allows those receiving unemployment benefits to file for an additional 11 weeks of coverage. An application period began Saturday.

Gig workers, freelancers and self-employed residents can also again apply for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program to get an 11-week extension of benefits backdated to the start of January.

Those who were receiving benefits should log onto their online dashboard and claim the 11 weeks by Jan. 29.

Participants in both programs will automatically get the extra $300 a week boost that was included in the latest federal COVID-19 stimulus package.

About 500,000 people combined were enrolled in PEUC and PUA when the programs ended in December, state officials said.

In other news, Pennsylvania recorded 5,785 new coronavirus cases and 205 virus-related deaths Saturday, bringing the state’s pandemic death toll to 20,526.

Philadelphia does not report case data on the weekends, and the state does not provide numbers on Sundays.

More than 631,000 people have been vaccinated in Pennsylvania, including nearly 83,000 in Philadelphia. Just over 20,000 people in the city have received two doses.

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