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Additional Guidance, Resources, and Checklists for ReOpening

May 22, 2020

Dear Operator, 

We all know that there was no handbook for Coronavirus, no roadmap for dealing with the wreckage it has caused, and we have all been reinventing the wheel every week for 10 weeks now to innovate, create, manage, and provide support for one another.  Reopening is and will be just as challenging as closing or modifying was in March.  I know many of you are concerned about areas of the restaurant portion of DC’s reopening plan, as was expected. It’s important to stress here that the guidance that was shared by Mayor Bowser on Thursday is merely that, guidance as DC tries to gradually reopen an entire city and bring many industries (not just ours) back online in a measured way.  

We know that in some ways to have the recommendations before us without the detailed instructions on how to navigate and operationalize them can be challenging, however it is still much better to be in the know about where things are headed, than to be in the dark and wondering when and how you can reopen.  

Candidly, there were elements where we too were bewildered by the final plan released yesterday in terms of some of the lack of detail, and I say that to you as someone serving as a chair of a subcommittee.  Detail does exist, based on all of the feedback we got from you and the subcommittees worked hard to create that detail. Yesterday’s briefing was a framework and that clarity will come on Tuesday when protocol surrounding these recommendations will be shared.  We have already shared feedback with the city, from all of you who have been in touch in the last 24 hours, and fixes are already being addressed. Nothing in the Reopen DC recommendations is a policy, order, or mandate, and changes are coming. 

To Address Immediate Concerns: 

  1. First in yesterday’s email from me there was a typo. In Stage Two, bringing alcohol from home is prohibited and not permitted. I apologize for any immediate confusion this may have caused. 
  2. Secondly, we are focused on clarifying the bar and tavern confusion. The sub committee's intent was to allow all facilities which can operate as a restaurant-type operation the ability to do so during the first two phases, in conformance with the guidelines, until they are allowed to fully resume operations and regardless of ABRA license type.  It has been recommended that any F & B operation with a menu and a minimum of 5 menu items should be allowed to operate as a restaurant (including bars and taverns, nightclubs, coffee shops, and all other types of operations). Clarification on this has already been considered by the Mayor’s Office. 
  3. On occupancy percentages, health officials are driving these models and they are rooted in the science of occupancy. Yes we know it isn’t ideal, but it is where we are currently, and they are open to discussing as we approach that stage. 
  4. In regard to concerns over use of outdoor spaces, there are many options being discussed taking into consideration inclement weather caveats and ensuring that by expanding outdoor space into streets and/or sidewalks, that accessibility for guests and for takeout and delivery business is prioritized. 

 

As we head into the weekend we want to provide you with important tools that will help you prepare for the stages of reopening, regardless of where you operate, and when you decide to reopen. There are many things you and your teams can be doing to get ready for next steps as you begin to change your operational model. 

Regional Reopening Timelines 

  • DC Mayor Bowser stated that barring any spikes in cases DC could begin a phased reopening on Friday, May 29th. 
  • Northern Virginia Governor Ralph Northam said Wednesday he has not decided whether Northern Virginia will enter the first phase of reopening on May 29. He said he's in regular communication with Northern Virginia leaders and that they are keeping an eye on data on community spread of the coronavirus, hospitalizations and other metrics.
  • Montgomery County could begin a phased reopening in the next week or two, according to County Health Officer Travis Gayles, though a specific date has not been publicly targeted. County Executive Marc Elrich said he was reluctant to put out a date to begin reopening.
  • Prince George’s County is aiming to enter a modified Stage One reopening by June 1. Click here for more information. 

Checklist for beginning to think about re-opening for on-premise dining

Yesterday, we mentioned Mayor Bowser would release additional information regarding reopening. Today, they released an example “Before You Reopen Checklist” for restaurants and retailers. The checklist is still vague, but does provide additional guidance as to how you should be approaching the reopening planning process. Click here for the checklist. 

Additional Recommendations: 

  • Make sure you have a vendor that can provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) like gloves and masks, as well as disinfectants and sanitizer.  Click here for vendor resource guide.
  • Make sure all ServSafe Food Manager certifications are up to date. Take additional training courses focused on health and safety for FREE. ServSafe developed a number of free resources aimed at keeping our workers and the dining public safe focused on Food Handler Online Course and Exam, precautions to take for delivery and take out, and reopening guidance. ‚Äč
  • Utilize technology. Contactless payment systems, automated ordering systems, mobile ordering apps, website updates and simple texts can help you to communicate and conduct business with reduced need for close contact. 
  • Update your employee handbooks, policies and procedures to make sure they are in line with local and national requirements as well as additional protocol changes you are implementing. 
  • Put a plan in place for how you will communicate your sanitation and re-opening plan with customers. Building customer confidence is key as we enter Stage One. 
  • Put your rehiring plan in place. Consider what it will look like for each stage as the ramp up period is unclear at this time. If you have newly open positions, email coronavirus@ramw.org to post on the RAMW Job Board or log in through your member portal.
    • For DC operators, we encourage you to look at participating in the Work Share Program, which allows multiple employees to share the work of one position. As participants in the program, they are also eligible to collect UI and the additional $600 through Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation. This could help entice hesitant employees back to work. Click here for more information, and click here to apply to participate. 

Tools and Resources for Reopening

Our team is here to help and provide resources for you as you plan what reopening will look like for your restaurants. Click here for our Reopening Resource page that has an extensive compilation of resources and information to aid you as you navigate this process. 

Finally, on Wednesday, we expect the House to pass the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act. This bill is the result of a group effort between the National Restaurant Association, state restaurant associations across the country, and the national Independent Restaurant Coalition who all worked to push for the changes represented in this bill. The bill pushes fixes for important issues we have with PPP like eliminating restrictions that limit non-payroll expenses to 25% and allowing forgiveness for expenses beyond the 8-week covered period. It is unclear how this will move in the Senate, but we will continue to keep you posted as this develops. 

Please enjoy the Holiday Weekend.

Be safe. Be kind. 

Best, 

Kathy