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Knoxville businessman testifies at U.S. Senate about RESTART Act, relief for live entertainment

Michael Strickland owns Bandit Lites and said companies in the live event industry have been closed since March, and will likely stay that way until next June.

A Knoxville businessman testified in front of the U.S. Senate on Wednesday about the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the live event industry.

Michael Strickland owns Bandit Lites, a lighting company that helps organize live events, and helped write the RESTART Act. The proposed legislation is meant to help the live event and entertainment industry by providing 7-year, low-interest loans to the shuttered businesses in the industry.

Strickland said that the industry has been effectively closed since March and that it would likely stay that way until next June. He said that companies have had to lay off their staff since closing, and also said they have not earned income.

He also said that they aren't about to borrow money because of their financial situation.

"Your stars may be well off and taken care of, but all the guys and gals that work for them and work for companies like Bandit ... we are not getting paid," he said.

He warned that if the industry does not receive COVID-19 relief, it may not return to pre-pandemic levels.