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DC Relief Measures and Regional Updates

July 7, 2020

I hope you found some brief moments of downtime during the holiday weekend. As we make our way through a new week, we are sharing updates from around the region. First, while most diners are more than willing to comply with safety requirements, I wanted to bring to your attention that there are fraudulent cards circulating that claim that people are exempt from wearing a face mask. The cards — featuring a red, white and blue eagle logo and approximately the size of a business card — say the bearer is exempt from ordinances requiring them to wear masks in public.

The card states, “Wearing a face mask posses a mental and/or physical risk to me. Under the Americans with Disability Act (ADA), I am not required to disclose my condition to you,”  — the card misspells “poses” and incorrectly names the Americans with Disabilities Act, and one version of the card features the Justice Department’s logo. Federal officials have stated that these cards are fraudulent.

In DC, the Council had a Legislative Session today, and had the first reading on the Mayor’s Budget Support Act (BSA). There are many advantageous provisions in the BSA for our industry, importantly it includes permanently allowing alcohol takeout and delivery for on premise licensees. It also expands the Inaugural “week” and provides six additional holiday hours days. The final vote will occur on July 28th.  

Also today, Councilmembers McDuffie and Allen moved legislation that creates a new grant program for small businesses impacted by COVID-19 and the public health emergency. The legislation requires funding up to $100 million from the CARES Act, however today’s passage does not guarantee that this grant program will be fully funded. The legislation passed with unanimous consent, which sends a strong message to the Mayor’s Office regarding the need for funding. We will be firmly advocating to ensure this grant program is funded. The Emergency Legislation provides a number of measures of relief for our community: 

  • Restaurants will be prioritized with 38% of the grant dedicated to restaurants
  • Recipients must demonstrate financial distress of a loss of fifty percent or more in gross receipts of sales between March and May. 
  • The grant is equivalent to up to fifteen percent of lost revenue between March and May but cannot be more than average monthly gross receipts for any single month in 2019
  • The grant can be used to help meet the demands of the public health emergency, reopening, rent or other fixed costs and spurring economic recovery. 
  • Small landlords that qualify as a CBE are also eligible for this grant if they have provided abatement or other benefits to the renter in the amount equal to at least twice the amount of the grant. 

Councilmember McDuffie also moved legislation that permits on premise licensees to sell (on a temporary basis) alcoholic beverages for on premise and off premise consumption with a food item for TWO additional locations. It also allows licensees to sell, serve, and permit the consumption of alcoholic beverages on new or expanded temporary ground floor or street level outdoor public or private space not listed on its existing license to operate as a pop up. Additional locations must have a valid Certificate of Occupancy for indoor space, and for outdoor space you must receive approval from DDOT for public space or the owner's consent for private indoor or outdoor space. 

As a reminder in DC, third party delivery fees are capped at 15% through the Mayor’s Emergency which is currently set to expire October 9th. We are pushing for the Emergency to be in place throughout all phases of reopening, and for as long as businesses cannot operate at full capacity. If you find a company to be in violation with the 15% cap, we encourage you to report this directly to DCRA by clicking here.

Virginia has entered Phase Three, which lifts capacity limits for restaurants but still requires 6 feet between seated parties. Governor Northam issued an Executive Order (EO) that prohibits bar seating. As a reminder, what is outlined in Forward Virginia and the EO are the floor of safety requirements and you are able to move at your own pace as you enter Phase Three. If practices are permitted in the guidelines but do not work for your restaurant, you are not required to reopen more quickly than what is allowed and you should feel comfortable going at your own pace. 

The Executive Order is available here.  Click here for the Forward Virginia Phase Three Guidelines. 

In Montgomery County, the County Council approved a special appropriation of $14 million to create the Reopen Montgomery Business Assistance Program, which will reimburse up to $5,000 to County businesses and non-profit organizations with less than 100 full-time equivalent employees that incur reopening expenses to comply with new state and county health regulations due to the Covid-19 public health crisis. 

Reopening reimbursable expenditures are expenses incurred during reopening to comply with Maryland and Montgomery County Covid-19 health regulations. Allowable expenses include, but are not limited to, the following: personal protective equipment, materials to create barriers, dividers, protected areas, contactless payment systems, cleaning supplies, signage, outdoor furniture, and disposable food containers and utensils. The funds will be administered through a rolling lottery system. Click here for more information.

To close, a number of you have expressed concern over Postmates, the third party delivery platform, who has disingenuously shared old menus on their platform for nonclients. If you have experienced this, please contact us at

Be safe. Be kind. Wear a mask.