Calls increase for Governor to release some of the ‘200 million’ pandemic relief funds to struggling businesses

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SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH (ABC4 News) – The call is growing for Governor Gary Herbert to allocate some of the state’s remaining pandemic relief funds to struggling businesses.

“I’ve heard it’s around $200 million,” said Derek Miller, President, and CEO of The Salt Lake Chamber and Downtown Alliance. “That’s a significant amount.”

The federal funds have to be dispersed before the end of the year, or the state is required to send them back to the federal government.

On Wednesday, The Salt Lake Chamber wrote a letter to the Governor and other leaders asking them to help businesses. As of Friday, The Chamber has yet to hear back.

“I would just say to the Governor, Governor-Elect, our current Lt. Governor, all the members of the Legislature, I’m going to tell them something they already know,” says Miller. “These businesses are the backbone of Utah’s economy.”

Those businesses include The Sun Trapp in Salt Lake City. A popular bar among the LGBTQIA community. It’s been open for 29 years.

It’s one of the bars who sent a letter to the Governor also on Wednesday asking him to end a current mandate. The order, which is set to expire on Monday December 7th, cuts off alcohol sales at 10 p.m.

“The 10 p.m. mandate is an unrealistic, unfounded statement from Governor Herbert that it is after 10 pm that we see social distancing causing some lower inhibitional behavior,” said Micheal Repp, Spokesperson for The Sun Trapp.

“When the 10 p.m. Mandate came in, we were already at a 1/3 of what we use to do.”

If the mandate is extended, Repp says business owners included in the letter sent to the Governor are considering taking legal action.

“At that point, I believe we move forward with an actual lawsuit.”

Repp explains what’s at stake for his business.

“Over Covid whole, we’ve probably lost over a million pretty close. Since the 10 p.m. mandate went into effect, we’ve lost about $90,000.”

In a statement, The Governor’s Office told ABC4 “The Unified Command continues to study the issue and will make a decision early next week when the new order is due.”

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