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Updates on Reopening the DC Area 4/30

April 30, 2020

Everyone is talking about the who, what, where, when, and how of reopening. This is a positive shift as it means we are headed back to some semblance of normalcy, albeit with restrictions we must all abide by in order to do business in this region.  As we approach the end of April, and seven weeks since you all had to drastically change your operations, we want to give you some insight on the regional approach, process, and next steps. 

As you know, the region’s leaders in DC, VA, and MD are coordinating efforts to ensure they are all moving forward on the same page.  We are working closely with each jurisdiction, and in DC RAMW was appointed a leadership role by the Mayor on the Restaurant and Food Sellers Task Force that is  one of 12 sub-committees on the ReOpen DC Committee.  The Committee includes a small mix of restaurateurs, agency heads, the Department of Health, Office of Nightlife, as well as community members.  Each of us serving on the Committee are dedicated to gathering feedback from the industry in different ways and including that input in our draft plan guiding restaurants, food trucks, food nonprofits, coffee shops, and more.  We had our first committee meeting yesterday to put deliverables in place and we have a short window, 8 days to be exact, to get the draft to the Mayor. 

NEXT STEPS: Our charge is to think outside the box, gather intel, assess business and community impact, and deliver a suggested plan gleaning from our outreach and research. The government’s charge, once we have delivered, is to finalize the guidelines for reopening that meet CDC, FDA, ServSafe, and other health and safety recommendations to keep our community safe.  In turn, we are calling on government agencies to think creatively about how a thoughtfully presented industry blueprint can be enabled and supported through mindful review of current policy and regulation during this abnormally challenged operating period.  

PROCESS: To create our draft plan, we have a 3-pronged approach. First, the Committee will utilize the National Restaurant Association’s reopening guidelines, which have been shared with every state restaurant association across the country as a trusted starting point of best operating practices. More than 40 states, including our neighboring associations in MD and VA, are mirroring this plan while also creating separate working plans that speak to the HOW in implementing the guidance.  Second, we are collaborating with our neighbors at Restaurant Association Maryland and Virginia Restaurant Lodging Travel Association, to ensure that guidelines and plans are coordinated as much as possible as our regional leaders roll out phased in recovery reopening.  Third, our intent is to incorporate all the feedback you shared from the Reopening Survey sent early last week to address and include what is most important to you as the region reopens.  

From the survey results received so far, we know that most of you plan to continue to offer take out and/or delivery service, that you would like to continue take out/delivery for spirits, wine and beer, and that the majority of you would want operating status to be above 50% capacity in your establishments to make it worth opening. We also learned that most of you are comfortable only accepting credit cards or exact change, increasing distance between tables, requiring staff to wear masks and limiting party sizes.  You are much less comfortable with opening with reservations only, offering special hours for vulnerable guests, and opening with no seating or standing at the bar.   Finally, all who responded agree that health officials must lead and define phases and timeline, and industry will follow with plans, operating models and practices.  

We need your input. If you have not already taken the reopening survey, please do so TODAY! Click here to take the survey and give your needed input. 

We are taking your feedback seriously as you are the experts on operating your own restaurant. Your insight is of the utmost importance as we have conversations with officials and agencies on operational burdens of measures that will be put in place to protect the health and safety of you, your staff and customers.  

Be safe. Be kind.