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Local and Federal Updates - Tuesday 3/24

March 24, 2020

Dear Operators,

We hope you are all staying strong. Here are updates for Tuesday, March 24, 2020. 

Restaurant Rescue Campaign
First, as we aim to tell your story and show the impact of COVID-19 on the food service industry, we will join a social media campaign tomorrow called #RESTAURANTRESCUEPLAN.

We will document on social media the number of employees who work at restaurants, bars and clubs in the region that have been laid off or furloughed to powerfully present to our government leaders and the public the devastation COVID-19 has had on our industry and why we need a #RestaurantRescuePlan. If you have not done so already, we need you to please complete this very quick, four question survey so we can launch this campaign.


In a press conference today, Mayor Bowser announced that all non-essential businesses in DC are required to close. Restaurants are considered “essential” businesses. 

DC Unemployment Insurance Note
We have heard from several of you that some UI applications your employees are submitting are being denied because they are selecting that they are “not actively looking for jobs”. We have talked to DOES about this and they have acknowledged there is a glitch that is being fixed and the form is currently being updated. In the meantime, when employees are filing we are being told they should be putting “COVID-19” as the reasoning. We expect further clarity and an update on the revised form in the next few hours.

DC Small Business Recovery Microgrants
The application for DC’s Microgrants will go live today at 2pm. We urge you to get your application prepared. Small businesses need the below items. Click here for more information. 

  • Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN) or Social Security Number (Look for this in a previously filed tax return or by following these tips from the IRS. Names and addresses in this application should match your EIN registration.)
  • 2017 and 2018 Federal Tax Returns (Personal returns will be accepted for independent contractors and self-employed individuals if business returns are not available.)
  • 2019 income statement showing monthly sales
  • 2020 year-to-date income statement showing monthly sales (Feel free to use this revenue worksheet if you don’t have an existing format.)
  • Payroll or roster of employees and their states of residence on January 31, 2020 (if applicable)
  • Documentation of the business owner or owners’ state residency (such as a driver’s license or bill)
  • Bank statements from January - March in 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020

Update on Federal Paid Leave: Phase 2 Congressional COVID-19 Plan
The effective date of COVID-2 (paid leave for workers and tax credits for small and midsize employers) is April 2, 2020. We are expecting the U.S. Department of Labor to start offering preliminary guidance today on many of the ambiguous provisions in need of clarification. Additionally, we are advised that the Department is adopting a non-enforcement period for good-faith employers during the first 30 days after the law takes effect. This means that the Department will not bring an enforcement action against good-faith employers during the 30-day period so that employers can come into compliance.  Additionally, the IRS is going to allow for expedited advance of the payroll tax credits and will be submitting a streamlined claim for that which will be released sometime this week.

Again, we are waiting for guidance from DOL and our partners at the National Restaurant Association to better understand the exemption process knowing that many of you could be impacted as you have employees of 50 or more. Below is a breakdown of what is included in the law:

  • All benefits are to be paid by the employer and will be fully reimbursed through a quarterly tax credit. We understand the extreme burden of paying upfront as cash flow is tight at this time, and are hoping this will be addressed in DOL guidance. The below requirements apply to employers of 500 or less. 
  • Paid Leave: Required to offer full-time employees 10 days (80 hours) and part-time employees a two-week hourly average of paid sick leave, on top of any other existing paid leave program, to quarantine or seek a diagnosis or preventive care for COVID-19.  Leave is paid at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay if taken to care for a family member for the same reasons or to care for a child whose school has closed. 
  • Family and Medical Leave: Eligible employees must have been on the employer’s payroll for 30 days. The first two weeks of leave may be unpaid leave, but thereafter employers must continue to offer FMLA paid leave for ten weeks compensated at two-thirds of the employee’s regular rate of pay. This leave can be utilized for an employee’s COVID-19 quarantine or treatment, care for an at-risk family member, or care for a child due to school closings or child care disruption. As with traditional FMLA, this leave is job-protected, meaning the employee must be returned to her/his same or equivalent job position.

Montgomery County Revision to Alcoholic Beverage Services to Include Liquor
Montgomery County revised the alcohol sales for off-premise consumption to include liquor, for those with a qualifying liquor license. While the Governor’s order to close all restaurants as a part of the catastrophic health emergency remains in effect, all restaurants licensed by the Montgomery County Board of License Commissioners may sell sealed containers of beer, wine, and liquor (for those with a qualifying liquor license) for off-premises consumption along with a takeout or delivered meal. This permission includes any type of sealed container, including bottles, cans, growlers, crowlers, and takeout cups with lids for off-premises consumption. This permission expires when the emergency order to close restaurants is lifted. Businesses may deliver beer, wine and liquor to Montgomery County addresses along with a meal using their own staff. State law prohibits the delivery of alcohol by a third party, such as Grubhub or Uber Eats. Apply here 

RAMW will be in touch later today with additional updates. We are streamlining a resources page on our website which we will also share with you.