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Staying the Course This Holiday Weekend and Beyond

July 2, 2020

We knew that recovery would take time, hard as that may be, and that this road would be a long one, but as we head into what is traditionally a busy weekend in our region I want to commend you on your patience, tenacity and positivity during these challenging times. Our regional leaders overall have taken a slower phased reopening compared to other cities and states across the country, and while that has felt frustrating at times, it is encouraging to know that this is proving to be the correct approach.  Our region’s thoughtful, gradual and mindful approach is allowing us to continue to dial up while others who rushed reopening are now having to dial back.  The move to indoor dining is a promising albeit tiny step forward.  Getting doors open was one thing, but encouraging consumers to dine out is the next hurdle and we know you are feeling that. 

Stay strong. Stay the course, and keep your marketing machines going as best you can. We are here to help amplify your messages and we are creating our own as well to promote all of you.  Please continue to let us know what you are doing to celebrate the 4th of July and in your daily operations.  Keep tagging us on social media at @ramwdc so we can share what you are doing,  and be on the lookout next week for updates on our Summer Restaurant Week program, which will be offered at very low cost to you, with triple the amount of marketing and advertising, and creative on-premise, pick-up and delivery options to drive spend across the region. 

It is also critical for us to hear from you how reopening is going as we have conversations about economic relief with regional leaders weekly if not daily. Please take a few minutes to fill out a survey based on your location. Click here for the DC survey. Click here for the Virginia survey. Click here for the Maryland survey.

In national news, a quick PPP update: The House voted by unanimous consent this week to pass the Senate bill extending the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) through August 8. The bill will now go to the President for his signature.

This bill does not change the PPP; it simply extends the window to apply for a PPP loan for another five weeks. The original program expired on June 30, with a balance of $130 billion dollars still available for loans. Once the President signs the bill, it’s expected the Small Business Administration will begin taking applications again.

Virginia, as you know, has entered Phase Three of reopening. On the eve of entering Phase Three, Governor Northam issued a new Executive Order restricting the protocol for bar seating from what was initially permitted in the Phase Three Guidance. With this change, bar seating and congregating areas of restaurants must remain closed except for those passing through a space. Restaurants may use non-bar seating in the bar area, as long as a minimum of six feet between tables is provided. Phase Three lifts capacity limits for restaurants but still requires 6 feet between seated parties. The Executive Order is available hereClick here for the Forward Virginia Phase Three Guidelines, but note that Tuesday’s Executive Order supersedes what is provided in the Guidelines. 

In DC, the City’s final budget is still being reviewed and currently there are no tax increases on businesses or residents, however there is some pressure to increase taxes. In response to this pressure, the Federal City Council has formed the Recover Strong Alliance, a coalition of DC businesses, workers and community organizations. The alliance’s primary message is that there can be no secure social safety net and progressive policy agenda without a strong recovery that leads to a robust economy and that no additional tax burdens should be placed on residents and employers. We urge you to take a few minutes to participate in the campaign because the DC Council needs to hear from you. Click here to tell the Council not to increase taxes on residents and employers. 

I would also like to share a piece of good news on the legislative recovery front. Councilmembers McDuffie and Allen are introducing legislation that creates a new grant program for small businesses impacted by COVID-19 and the public health emergency. While the legislation is still in draft form, we know that restaurants will be prioritized with a dedicated percentage of the grant set aside for our industry, and funds will be awarded based on lost revenue between March and May. 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. The legislation will likely be introduced on Tuesday. We will keep you posted as more information is available. 

Also, to share another bit of good news, it looks like the Council will introduce legislation to only subject restaurants to a 10% sales tax rate on alcoholic beverages for on-premise and off-premise consumption. Currently off-premise consumption of alcoholic beverages is subject to a rate of 10.25%. This fix is a direct result of our advocacy efforts. We will keep you posted as this moves forward.  

We have shared this information before, but as you welcome more employees and guests in your restaurant, we want to remind you of DOH’s protocol for what to do if an employee tests positive:

  • Contact DC DOH at, you should be prepared to close for 24-48 hours, and DC DOH will provide you with guidance on when you can reopen. 
  • Clean and sanitize entire facility
  • Exclude employee who tested positive and until cleared to return by their healthcare provider and DC Health
  • Exposed employees will need to quarantine for 14-days from the time of exposure. If the employee is tested, and it comes back negative, they should still be prepared to finish quarantine for the full 14-days. 
    • “Exposed” is defined as being within 6 ft of someone for more than 15 minutes. 
  • Quick note: Once you have deep cleaned and sanitized your facility, and DOH has given you guidance on when to reopen (likely within 24-48 hours), you are able to resume operations with employees who have not been exposed to the employee that tested positive, if capacity allows.  

An operational note, live music is not permitted at ABC licensed establishments during Stage Two and while you are able to apply for a waiver, it seems as if the city is pausing on approving live music waivers for ABC licensees at this time. We will share more information on this once it is available. The DC government has also provided a helpful document that outlines required steps you must take to be in compliance with DOH, ABRA, DDOT and DCRA. Click here for the requirements document. Please note that while the document says live entertainment is permitted by DOH that does not pertain to ABC licensed establishments.

And finally as we head into the 4th of July holiday weekend, Mayor Bowser issued a strong recommendation for the 4th that DC residents celebrate at or near their home or in small gatherings, avoiding large public gatherings of any kind. No official guidance was issued for businesses for this upcoming Holiday that normally brings many tourists to our area, but we encourage you to continue to follow the strict protocol you have put in place to protect your employees and guests. Your creativity is shining through in your social media feeds about indoor and outdoor dining out, fun weekend eats and promotions, and party packs for the backyard!

We hope you enjoy this holiday weekend.  The RAMW office is closed tomorrow 7/3 for our staff to take a needed break. If you need to reach us for any reason, please email us at which is being monitored for time sensitive items. 

Be safe. Be kind. Wear a mask.