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DC and VA Updates, Reminders, and Resources

June 25, 2020

This has already been a big week in our region as many of you are easing into indoor dining, bringing some staff back on board and planning for the next phases. We are sharing many updates, reminders, and information from across the region today.  While we move to a 2-3 per week messaging cycle, we will continue to share information in a timely manner, and will increase it if necessary.  

In PPP updates,  the SBA released additional guidance this week that expanded on information we already knew and shared. One important piece of guidance of note relates to loan forgiveness. Loan forgiveness will not be reduced if you can provide information to support any of the below three scenarios: 

  1. You are able to restore your full time equivalent (FTE) count to pre-COVID levels by 12/31.
  2. You document a good faith effort to rehire employees, who ultimately declined to come back to work at your business. 
  3. You are able to document an inability to return to the same level of business activity due to compliance with requirements established or guidance issued by Health and Human Services, CDC, or OSHA during the period beginning on March 1, 2020, and ending December 31, 2020, related to the maintenance of standards for sanitation, social distancing, or any other worker or customer safety requirement related to COVID–19.

If you think any of the above scenarios might apply to you, we encourage you to connect with your CPA or attorney to discuss your options. 

In Virginia, Governor Northam confirmed in today’s press conference that Virginia will move to Phase Three on Wednesday, July 1st. The Order has not been issued at this point, but we will share once it is available. Phase Three lifts capacity limits for restaurants but still requires 6 feet between seated parties. Click here for Phase Three Guidelines. 

The Governor also said he will no longer hold twice weekly briefings and will hold them instead as needed, and reiterated the Department of Health will continue to update data daily. 

In DC, some updates and reminders.  First, a reminder that the minimum wage and tip minimum wage increase to $15/hour and $5/hour, respectively on Wednesday, July 1st as previously scheduled. Please make sure you are planning accordingly to ensure you are in compliance. 

In Phase 2 updates, live music is not permitted by ABRA for ABC licensees during Phase Two. However, there is an opportunity to apply for a waiver, if this is something you are interested in offering while adhering to the strict social distancing guidelines. Click here for the waiver. You must receive approval before you amend operations outside of what is laid out in guidance from the Mayor’s Office, DOH, ABRA and DDOT.   

On tax relief, if you are eligible for the Small Retailer Property Tax Relief Credit, and did not claim the credit on your 2018 District franchise tax return, it is not too late to file a return claiming the credit. For 2019, the deadline to file a return is July 15, 2020. The credit, of up to $5000, is available for tax years 2018 and 2019 to eligible small retailers who had a sales tax account with the Office of Tax and Revenue and federal gross receipts of $2.5 million or less during those years and are current on all District tax obligations. Click here for more information. 

And additional relief from DC today as the Committee on Business and Economic Development passed provisions of the Mayor’s Budget Support Act out of Committee today, which means they are one step closer to the final vote which will occur on July 28th. There were many advantageous provisions for our industry, including: 

  • Permanently allowing alcohol takeout and delivery for on premise licensees and allow carry out and delivery of alcohol between 6am and 1am. 
  • Inaugural week will be expanded to include January 9-24, 2021. 
  • On premise hours for service of alcohol will begin at 6am daily.
  • Provides six additional holiday hours days--Saturday and Sunday adjacent to Veterans’ Day, Christmas Eve and Emancipation Day.

As we head into the 4th of July holiday week next week,  Mayor Bowser issued a strong recommendation for the 4th of July that DC residents celebrate at or near their home and in small gatherings. No official guidance was issued for businesses for this upcoming Holiday that normally brings many tourists to our area. We will keep you posted if more information becomes available as we head into the Holiday weekend. 

ICYMI, I want to reshare this restaurant-customer pledge, co-branded with the Mayor’s office, that you can hang in your establishments to serve as a reciprocated promise between you and your guests. Click here for the promissory pledge. 

DC Health Link is presenting PowerUpDC 2020, a virtual small business forum on Tuesday, June 30 from 10:00am-11:30am. The theme of this year’s forum is:  A New Era – Resilience and Opportunity. The sessions will focus on how small businesses can adapt and succeed amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Click here to register for PowerUpDC 2020.

As you continue to rehire and bring back members of your staff, we have heard that many of you are considering the Work Share Program and also have many questions. We are working with the city to make sure all of your questions get answered in a helpful and streamlined way, so please stay tuned for more information. In the meantime, we encourage you to review the WorkShare Employer Guidance here

If you are in need of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and disinfectants, we encourage you to reach out to our local partners (Acme Paper and Supply Co, TriMark Adams-Burch, Saval Foodservice, Ecolab as well as Amazon who has a special portal for small businesses to purchase PPE items that can be found hereAdditionally, our friends at Saval shared a mask option from FaceArmour which includes built-in cooling features and may be useful in these hotter months, especially for those working in kitchens. Click here for photos and details. 

In closing, a quick update from RAMW.  Today you may see in the media that we officially announced the date of the RAMMYS, to be hosted in a modified format on September 20, 2020.  As we know many of you look forward to this event each year, we wanted to make sure you know that while we are limited by number of attendees this year, due to health and safety requirements, we fully intend to host an intimate red-carpet media event for Finalists, Sponsors, and select media. This will be complemented by in-restaurant programming and creative virtual engagement options for all in the industry to be part of The RAMMYS this year. We will continue to share updates as we have further details. 

Be safe. Be kind.