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Restaurant Advocacy Campaign & Regional Updates

April 10, 2020
Dear Operators,
I hope you got outside to see some sunshine this week and that you are practicing self-care and stress management when you can during this time.  As an Essential industry, you are rising above every day and it is noticeable how hard you as operators are working to ensure safety for your employees, vendors, and takeout and delivery patrons by going above and beyond to establish strict protocol and safety standards. Earlier today, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious-disease expert, said that the curve is beginning to flatten, and he applauded those taking extraordinary care for doing their part as we are all in this together.   
Two-Step Plan
As we head into the weekend, we need your attention and help on step one of a deliberate and multistep advocacy campaign and strategy. This strategic phased approach will happen in two steps. 
  1. Over the next week Congress is looking to address quick fixes to PPP. That is all they will address right now.  
  2. In early May, Congress will look to consider additional relief in Phase IV. This is when we will push our comprehensive local/regional issues that will also tie into a national industry effort as well, to include your concerns around rent relief, business interruption insurance, coverage for health insurance premiums, and more.
While you may be seeing many industry groups across the country advocating for overarching change, maintaining a targeted focus at this quick fix stage is crucial, which is why we will be focusing our efforts here for this first step and will address the additional areas of needed relief during our Phase IV campaign.
Starting today and in the coming weeks we will provide you different opportunities to take action, and it is essential for you to be engaged on every front.  
Phase 3.5 Background and Action 
The House and the Senate are considering a Phase 3.5 of relief, which consists of different quick fixes to the CARES Act that aim to allocate much needed additional funds to PPP.  Phase 3.5 is narrow in scope and is mostly focused on increasing funding to PPP, however there is an opportunity for our issues with PPP, which align with the National Restaurant Association’s issues representing millions of operators across the country, to be addressed during this phase. Phase 3.5 requires unanimous consent, which is why it will be narrow in scope. 
To capitalize on the Phase 3.5 opportunity to fix issues with the CARES Act, the National Restaurant Association sent this letter to Congressional leadership outlining our industry’s issues with the CARES Act and PPP.  
Now We Need You To ACT! Click here to reach out to Congress to tell them to fix PPP and make the CARES Act work for restaurants. The goal is to pass Phase 3.5 in the next couple of days, so we need you to act quickly. 
As you know, it will take a more comprehensive approach to addressing other areas of needed relief such as rent relief, business interruption insurance, coverage for health insurance premiums, and more. To address these overarching needs, RAMW has created a campaign that speaks to Phase IV of Congressional federal relief and the issues that must be addressed to support our unique industry. This campaign is based directly on feedback we have heard from YOU and our national partners, and we will share more information with you next week.  
Maryland Updates
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan hosted a press conference today where, among several updates, he said that Maryland’s UI process is being overhauled to better assist those trying to apply for and receive UI benefits. The state is taking immediate action to pull labor from other agencies.  The actions include doubling staffing of the claims center, adding Saturday hours for filing claims by phone, and implementing Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation by the end of next week. Individuals who are not usually eligible for regular unemployment insurance and who cannot work due to the coronavirus are eligible for a maximum of 39 weeks of benefits, which includes $600 in Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC).  Click here to read the summary. 
Recap of Call with Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay
We had a very productive zoom meeting with Chairman Jeff McKay today and discussed opportunities for relief at the County level, state and federal level, as well as the Board’s approach to COVID-19. The Chairman urged everyone to visit the County’s Coronavirus Business website for up to date information, and assured everyone on the call that County employees are working in overdrive during this time. The County is focused on immediate measures for relief and has extended deadlines for personal property taxes until at least 6/1. The real estate tax payments have been extended to August, and this relief will hopefully be shared with business tenants. The new Fairfax County budget has no tax increases and freezes most of the fees.
The Fairfax County Board will vote on Tuesday to approve a $2.5M loan program for small businesses with less than 50 employees. The Chairman noted that this program is just a starting point, and that they will work on additional opportunities for support or mechanisms to expand the loan program, which is meant to supplement federal loans. Once it passes, we are looking at a 7 day turnaround period. We will share more information with you as it becomes available. 
As we turn toward recovery, the Board will create a task force and restaurants will be represented in the task force. We urged McKay to look at recovery through a lens of businesses that will have a long ramp up time before they are able to get back to normal operations. Chairman McKay is also in regular contact with Virginia’s members of Congress and will share the anchoring message points of our Phase IV relief campaign. 
I wish you a good weekend and holiday. 
Stay safe. Stay kind. 

Kathy Hollinger | President and CEO
Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington