Hotel and restaurant workers and others in Michigan’s hospitality industry will begin receiving grant payments of nearly $800 this week, the state announced Thursday.

Payments have been mailed to more than 55,900 Michigan residents who applied for the grants program, part of the Employee Assistance Grants program.

The program was created through a $45 million bipartisan budget appropriation the governor signed in late 2020.

Hospitality workers whose employment was negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic were able to apply for the grants in January. 

“As we continue to address the effects of COVID-19, our top priority is providing financial relief to Michigan families and small businesses, so that we can grow our economy and get back to normal,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in a release Thursday.

“This special grant program puts dollars in the pockets of Michiganders who work in hospitality, entertainment, recreation, accommodation and food services sectors — as well as the gym and fitness sectors. These Michiganders have made great sacrifices and continue to make great sacrifices as we fight COVID-19.” 

Impacted workers include those employed by bars, banquet halls, bowling alleys, hotels, golf courses and theaters.

The Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association Educational Foundation processed the applications in January and February and notified applicants. Checks were mailed Wednesday, officials said. 

Justin Winslow, president and CEO of the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association, said restaurant and hotel employees in Michigan need help.

“We are honored to administer these much-needed grants,” he said. “These dollars provide assistance for the hardship experienced during these extraordinary times.” 

The MRLAEF founded the Hospitality Industry Employee Relief Fund in April 2020, shortly after the first state-mandated “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order, which resulted in closures and restrictions on operations. 

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