You are here

Federal & Regional Updates 4/24

April 24, 2020

The House of Representatives voted 4/24 to approve a $484 billion package to deliver aid to small businesses and hospitals and expand COVID-19 testing. An additional $310 billion was authorized for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), while $60 billion will be set aside for smaller lending facilities. There will also be an additional $10 billion for EIDL grants and $50 billion for disaster recovery loans. For those who have not secured funding loans, please reach out to your lenders immediately to be considered for funding.

As we have been stating all along, PPP in its current state does not work for our unique industry. There have been scores of voices nationwide and daily urging of Congress and Treasury to make the fixes needed. The National Restaurant Association submitted letters to both Treasury and the SBA stating that these changes are needed in the way that PPP is administered. There has been feedback that the Treasury may offer some guidance on PPP early next week.  In the meantime, let’s continue to roar loudly. Congress is not back in session until early May to begin working on Phase IV of Federal relief. Let’s not allow one day to go by until then to tell Congress what we need. If you have not done so click here to take ONE MINUTE to tell Congress restaurants need relief that works for our industry NOW.

Earlier this week, we also shared helpful guidance from Matt Hetrick of CPA Eats about navigating the PPP loan process, and determining if PPP is actually the best route for your business. If you are still interested in applying for PPP, or utilizing available loans, grants and additional relief measures like the Employee Retention Credit to your advantage, make sure you are in touch with your bank NOW. Click here for additional guidance from CPA Eats.

Reopening Guidance

As we mentioned, we are developing a blueprint for reopening our region consistent with what our state counterparts across the country are creating. We are gleaning guidance from other states, the National Restaurant Association, and all of you to ensure we are providing our regional leaders with suggested guidelines and business impact.

RAMW has been asked to provide an industry-specific reopening plan to Mayor Bowser by May 8th, as I help lead the restaurant and food retailer Subcommittee of the Mayor’s Reopen DC Advisory Committee.  We will provide this to Governors Hogan and Northam as well who are working on similar timelines with industry leaders in those respective states.  Both Governors shared their approaches to reopening today and updates are included below.

We know reopening is complex and there are many facets to be considered in each phase of reopening an entire industry with proper timing to prepare for issues specific to social distancing, rehiring, restocking inventory, reengaging suppliers, acquiring proper PPE, training employees in safety protocol, and much more.

Virginia Update

Governor Ralph Northam held a press conference 4/24 and spoke to Virginia's reopening plan named “Forward Virginia Blueprint”. The plan is based on the guidelines established by the CDC and announced by the White House, based on a required decline in both the percentage of positive cases and number of hospitalizations over 14 days and also to make adequate testing available statewide before the Commonwealth can move into Phase 1 of reopening. While the plans will not be identical, DC, Maryland and Virginia are working to be consistent in the easing in of guidelines.

Phase 1 includes social distancing, continued teleworking, and face coverings recommended in public. The Governor noted that his team has met with stakeholders including businesses and local governments to talk about the right way to ease restrictions, and what that will look like on the ground. Our industry is represented during these important conversations. The Governor reported that they will use this input to develop two sets of guidance, including steps for restaurants and non-essential retail.

The Governor noted that he will not lift restrictions like a light switch and that his focus is to do it in a methodical way based on science. He is hopeful Virginia will be able to reach Phase 1 as soon as May 8th.

Maryland Update

Governor Hogan released a National Governors Association (NGA) report providing reopening guidance to governors across America. He also released the "Maryland Strong: Roadmap to Recovery" which utilizes White House guidelines, the NGA plan, and plans released by American Enterprise Institute and Johns Hopkins. Click here for more information on the Roadmap to Recovery. Governor Hogan feels confident that Maryland has successfully flattened the curve. However, the number of new COVID-19 cases is still rising in Maryland and throughout the National Capital Region, so by federal standards and guidance in multiple reopening plans, Maryland is not yet able to lift restrictions.

Governor Hogan is hopeful that if Marylanders continue staying home and are practicing physical distancing, and numbers continue to plateau, we could begin the recovery in early May. However like other jurisdictions, important markers must be met before reopening occurs like a 14-day downward trend in cases. Reopening will happen in three stages, and currently Maryland does not plan to reopen restaurants until stage two:

  • STAGE ONE. Lifting the stay at home order; reopening of many small businesses; lower risk community activities and quality of life improvements resume.
  • STAGE TWO:  Resumption of indoor religious gatherings with limited capacity, raising limits on social gatherings, return to normal transit schedules, and opening restaurants and bars with significant safety restrictions.
  • STAGE THREE. Reinstituting higher risk activities including larger social gatherings, opening of high-capacity bars and restaurants, lessened restrictions on visits to nursing homes/hospitals, entertainment venues, larger religious gatherings.

The Maryland Department of Commerce is forming advisory groups to develop recommendations and best practices for their industries to responsibly operate. Restaurants and bars are one of the advisory groups and we are working directly with the Restaurant Association of Maryland on guidance.

DC Update

On 4/24, Mayor Bowser held a press conference with Jeff DeWitt the Chief Financial Officer for DC. The CFO made economic impact projections for the city that were based on assumptions that there will be an early summer reopening of the city with large scale stadium events starting as late as January 2021. Please note, the Mayor has not given any indication of the timeframe of reopening and has shared markers that must be present before Phase 1 of re-opening occurs.  Click here to read more about DC’s markers.

We will be in touch as there are further updates.

Be safe. Be kind.