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Rice introduces bill that would apply 50% discounts to many meals to help restaurants

Restaurants have been hit hard by the pandemic.
Restaurants have been hit hard by the pandemic.(Source: WMBF News)
Updated: Oct. 1, 2020 at 5:18 PM EDT
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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - Congressman Tom Rice has introduced legislation that he said would provide a major boost to the restaurant industry.

The legislation is called the America Dines Out Act and it would make many meals at restaurants 50% off in order to incentivize eating out.

Here’s how it would work:

  • Diners would get 50% off meals that are $12 or less.
  • The government would pay the restaurant the remaining 50%.
  • It would apply on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
  • It would last one month total.
  • Diners would have to eat at the restaurant.
  • It wouldn’t cover alcohol.

Rice got the idea for the bill after he read a news article from the United Kingdom about legislation that did the same thing. The UK government reports the discounts applied to more than 60 million meals for the month of August.

“I thought, ‘Wow, that would be a great idea for the Grand Strand,’” Rice said.

Rice stressed that revitalizing the restaurant industry amid the COVID-19 pandemic is vitally important.

“[We have] 1,700 restaurants on the Grand Strand,” Rice said. “[That’s] perhaps the highest number of restaurants per permanent member of the population anywhere in the country.”

He’s now working with members of Congress from other tourism-driven areas like Las Vegas, Orlando and Reno to get the legislation passed. Rice said other members of Congress have been receptive to the idea.

Rice is running for re-election against Democratic opponent Melissa Watson. She believes the money used for this proposal would be better used for more stimulus money.

“I applaud his effort to try to do something about this problem, but it’s the wrong answer,” Watson said. “And the reason it’s the wrong answer is because the money will be going to the businesses and not the workers.”

Rice hopes the legislation passes by the end of the year.

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