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Updates from Around The Region

July 28, 2020

In Virginia, Governor Northam announced that he is issuing a new Executive Order that only impacts the Hampton Roads area that places additional restrictions on their operating abilities. This dialing back was expected as cases have increased significantly and caused concern in that region. This EO requires all restaurants in that area only to stop selling alcohol at 10pm and close at midnight, reduces indoor dining to 50% capacity and limits public and private gathering to 50 people. The Governor did state that if cases rise throughout the state or in other jurisdictions he will take steps to dial back allowable activity.  At this time, the dial-back measures only apply to the Hampton Roads area, but we do expect enforcement to increase across the Commonwealth. Click here to read the Order.

The Governor also announced the adoption of statewide emergency workplace safety standards in response to the novel coronavirus. The standards include: 

  • mandate social distancing measures and face coverings for employees in customer-facing positions
  • when social distancing is not possible, provide frequent access to hand washing or hand sanitizer
  • regularly clean high-contact surfaces
  • notify all employees within 24 hours if a coworker tests positive for the virus
  • assure that employees who are known or suspected to be positive for COVID-19 cannot return to work for 10 days or until they receive two consecutive negative tests

These temporary emergency standards will remain in effect for six months and may be made permanent through the process defined in state law.  Under these new standards, employers will be given 30-60 days from today's effective date to develop and train employees on their infectious disease preparedness and response plan. More information will be posted on the Department of Labor and Industry website this week. 

Finally in Virginia, the Commonwealth is launching a new grant program for small businesses and nonprofits called Rebuild VA. The program will provide grants of up to three times the applicant’s average monthly eligible expenses up to a maximum award of $10,000. The application will be available on August 10, 2020. This statewide program is capitalized with $70 million, which means the Commonwealth will be able to assist approximately 7,000 businesses. Rebuild VA will be administered by the Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity (SBSD). Businesses and nonprofits must be in good standing, have annual gross revenues of no more than $1.5 million, and have no more than 25 employees. Click here for more information and for training webinars on how to apply. 

In DC, Mayor Bowser announced a mandatory 14-day quarantine for people who travelled to “high risk states” for nonessential reasons.  Maryland and Virginia will not be considered high risk states and every other week an updated list of high risk states will be published on Click here for the current list of high risk states. At this time the Mayor has not indicated that the District will dial back on any allowed activities. If this changes, we will let you know immediately. Currently, cases have plateaued above 70 new cases per day with a recent spike above 100, and community spread is higher than the Department of Health would like, however they are not able to point to a particular activity that is responsible for the spread. We will continue to monitor this ever evolving situation and share any updates with you.

Also today, the Council held the final vote to pass the Budget Support Act (BSA).  There are many advantageous provisions in the BSA for our industry that you have heard us talking about for weeks. A quick reminder and recap of what is included in the BSA now that it has officially passed:  

  • It permanently allows alcohol takeout and delivery for on premise licensees 
  • It expands the Inaugural “week” and provides six additional holiday hours days
  • It includes a provision that keeps the sales tax rate on alcoholic beverages for restaurants at 10% regardless of whether it is consumed on or off premise. Currently off-premise consumption of alcoholic beverages is subject to a rate of 10.25%. 
  • It does NOT have any tax increases

These provisions officially go into effect in October, which is the start of a new fiscal year for the city. 

Also in today’s Legislative Session, the Council passed an Emergency bill introduced by Elissa Silverman that mandates enforcement provisions for the safety requirements contained in the Mayor’s Orders (ex: social distancing and face masks). This legislation goes into effect upon signature from the Mayor and remains in effect for 90-days. The legislation also: 

  • Prohibits retaliation against employees because they test positive for COVID-19 or employees who refuse to serve or work with an individual who refuses to social distance or wear PPE
  • Establishes a PPE Grant program for small businesses to buy or be reimbursed for PPE purchases, up to $1,000 per business -- this has not been funded at this time, and this portion is subject to available funding
  • Allows Mayor’s Office to find additional funding to make a bulk purchase of PPE materials that can be provided to businesses -- this will only happen if the Mayor’s office identifies additional funding 

Finally in DC, I want to remind you of a BIG TAX WIN that we shared last week, but want to make sure this didn’t get lost in your inbox. As you know, February and March sales and use tax payments were deferred until July 20th, but you were still expected to file your return on the normal date of March 20th or April 20th. If you did not file on time, you likely received a letter from the Office of Tax Revenue (OTR) charging high penalties. However, through our advocacy and work with the city’s Chief Financial Officer, OTR and Mayor’s Office of Nightlife and Culture, OTR has determined that as long as your February and March taxes were FILED AND PAID by July 20th they will waive any interest payments and fees. When you log into your tax portal at, the penalty fees should no longer appear. 

If you have any questions regarding your tax filing or payment, please reach out to the Tax Office Collection Division Chief, Marc Aronin at, as well as the general compliance email at You can also reach the office by phone at (202) 724-5045. Or connect with the Taxpayer Advocate, Elena Fowlkes at

In Maryland, the Montgomery County Reopen Montgomery Grant Program applications will be available by noon on July 29, 2020. As a reminder, the Small Business Grant Program will provide grants up to $5,000. This will likely be a competitive application process so we encourage you to start getting all the required materials together now. Click here for more information. 

And finally, as a reminder Summer Restaurant Week dates that were shared with you previously are for your planning purposes only. Please do not share the dates of the promotion in any way or on any platform at this time as the planned announcement is a part of our larger marketing campaign, which is slated to kick off later this week. Please reach out to I-shi Patterson Stuart, with any questions.

As always, please reach out to us with any questions you may have by emailing

Be safe. Be kind. Wear a mask.