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Reopening, Short Term Wins & Longer Term Relief

May 26, 2020

Dear Operator, 

Heading into this week I know you all have your heads in reopening as most of the Metro Area moves into phase/stage one at the end of the week or early next week.  That transition is equal parts a welcome relief and a new and difficult challenge for those who are choosing to utilize available outdoor space.  On Friday, we tackled many of your issues on DC’s reopening and shared resources and tools (see here) as you plan for these upcoming transitions. 

Today, Mayor Bowser gave a situational update and indicated that reopening in Stage 1 is still slated for this Friday May 29, as tomorrow marks day 14 in COVID-19 case decline, and the District is on target in terms of having contact tracers in place. Business Improvement Districts and Main Streets in DC are now preparing to distribute startup Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) care packages for local businesses.  RAMW will post information and a link on our website, once available, for you to request materials. Tomorrow, the Mayor is expected to address the protocol and implementation around the Reopen DC plan during her press conference and offer additional guidance throughout the day to address outstanding questions regarding licensees and outdoor space. We will keep you posted on updates and details there. 

Thinking about what we’ve accomplished in these 10 heavy weeks is sometimes lost in the fast and furious nature in which we had to react.  In the moment of crisis we worked with our region’s leaders to allow for the sale of alcohol, beer and wine for takeout/delivery, we pushed for emergency legislation in DC to ensure a cap on 3rd party delivery, to delay regulatory fees and taxes, to address a Tenant Payment Plan for mortgage and rent relief, and to confirm that utility companies could offer deferred payments and repayment plans.  We also walked operators through grant and loan options region-wide and encouraged our partners at Events DC to approve $5M in funding that extended the life of the DC Microgrant to fund an additional 1000+ restaurants and foodservice businesses who would likely have been left out of grant funding as the District received more applicants than they could fund.  And although It continues to be a turbulent ride, with many fixes needed along the way, these were all critical bandaids to allow you as operators to remain still for a moment.  Our goal is that some of this relief will remain in place on a permanent basis.  Going forward, we are still thinking about relief opportunities that will  be needed beyond this moment, in long-term relief that will help businesses survive in the future and carry operators through all phases of reopening and beyond. 

Throughout these weeks, our elected and appointed officials have had a willingness to support a variety of relief efforts to ensure that the small independent businesses that make up the fabric of our region can sustain and once again thrive, and our expectation is that they will continue on this path.  As longer term opportunities come to fruition, we look forward to sharing details with you about strategic potential legislative measures we are pushing for to ensure ongoing relief.  

This week, we want you to focus on reopening.  We also want you to be prepared for a FINAL and very LOUD outreach to Congress to fix PPP.  If it is ever going to get fixed, it will be this week.  This final effort will take a village.  And together with our friends at the National Restaurant Association, fellow state restaurant associations, and the Independent Restaurant Coalition, who have all worked so hard in coordination along the way, we have one final opportunity to make Congress fix PPP on behalf of our industry.  The House is slated to vote on bipartisan legislation on Wednesday -- the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act, H.R. 6886 -- that will make real changes in PPP. 

Briefly, the legislation would:

  1. Allow forgiveness for expenses beyond the 8-week covered period. 
  2. Eliminate restrictions limiting non-payroll expenses to 25% of loan proceeds. 
  3. Eliminate restrictions that limit loan terms to 2 years. 
  4. Ensure full access to payroll tax deferment for businesses that take PPP loans. 
  5. Extend the rehiring deadline to offset the effect of enhanced Unemployment Insurance.  


Once the House votes this week, the Senate returns from recess next week to consider this legislation and will need to hear these same calls so they move the bill along quickly.  Stay tuned for details this week as we ask you to be loud in your outreach and social media so our industry is heard.  

As always, I’ll be in touch with updates throughout the week as reopening guidance becomes more clear.   

Stay safe. Stay kind.