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Mask Up, ABRA Relief for ABC Licensees, Support from Sen. Schumer

August 18, 2020

We kicked off this week with cooler temperatures and more to look forward to as we head into the first of two weeks of our Summer Restaurant Week promotion across the region and as diners continue to dine out, take out, dine outdoors and support local businesses. Today, Mayor Bowser dined out to help promote Restaurant Week to media outlets and she is actively pushing out a new Mask Up DC video spot airing on Channel 16 and on social platforms featuring some of our local chef members encouraging diners to mask up for the safety of all. 

In DC, we have mentioned that we are working with local entities on efforts to extend outdoor dining and expand resources available for businesses to be able to do so into the colder weather months.  We will keep you posted on progress in this area. Last week, we hosted a roundtable and Q&A session with DDOT on reimagining outdoor spaces and exploring streateries. Our contacts at DDOT shared updated guidance and diagrams for expanded and new use of outdoor spaces for restaurants and retail. Click here for the updated guidance. 

ABRA, at the urging of RAMW and The Veritas Law Firm, recognizing that many ABC-licensed businesses are operating in a limited fashion and experiencing financial hardship, issued an emergency rulemaking last week providing additional relief for restaurants. The Board has greatly extended the time for payment, waived late fees and extended the date by which an operator must decide to pay to maintain the license.

Specifically, the emergency rulemaking does the following: 

  1. Suspends the late fee for a licensee's failure to timely remit the second or third year license fee or renewal license fee for certain license categories. This includes both operator ABC licenses and manager licenses. 
  2. Greatly extends the length of time for operators to pay to maintain a license. With these rulemakings, if payments due by July 31, 2020 are not made by 9/30/2020, cease and desist orders will be entered 10/21/2020 and licenses will be canceled for nonpayment on November 4, 2020. If a cease and desist order is entered and the license is cancelled for nonpayment, reinstatement may be requested until 5/3/2021 without the payment of late fees, as long as all fees are brought current. 
  3. The Board, also recognizing the difficulty in obtaining police clearances from other jurisdictions during the pandemic, adopted an alternate procedure for complying with police clearance requirements required for applications.

In VA, in case you missed it, the Commonwealth released a much talked about App called COVIDWISE, to support contract tracing and alert app users if they have come in contact with someone who tested positive. The app utilizes Bluetooth Low Energy technology and provides privacy, anonymity, and does not store your personal information. Click here to learn more

Also in VA, RAMW is tracking two bills offering relief that were introduced in the General Assembly regular session today. One, House Bill 5006, waives the penalties and interest for six months for taxpayers who suffered a job loss, business closure, or reduction in business operations because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The waivers apply to sales and use taxes and all local taxes that were due during a period in which the loss, closure, or reduction in operations occurred, as well as income taxes for the taxable year 2019. In short, if an operator failed to pay their taxes during the pandemic, they will receive a waiver on the penalties, or if they’ve already paid the penalty, they will receive a refund. The other, Senate Bill 5036, would effectively take away the limitation on the number of special events a restaurant or special event licensee can hold in a year (currently 16), during the course of the public health emergency. We will update you on any developments regarding these bills. 

On the National front, a few updates from our partners at the National Restaurant Association. First, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced he is cosponsoring the RESTAURANTS Act. This is a significant move in the right direction given his leadership role and many are watching this relief bill closely as both sides of the aisle are debating how large to make the package and advocating for it to include major relief that acts as a second and larger round of funding targeted to restaurants. Read the press release here.  For more in-depth information on relief, the National Restaurant Association Public Affairs team will host a webinar tomorrow, Wednesday 8/19 at 2pm titled  “Restaurant Relief: The Road Ahead with Sean Kennedy, EVP of Public Affairs”. Register here to attend the webinar. 

As always, continue to let us know how we can best support you and send any questions or feedback you have to

Be safe. Be kind. Wear a mask.