COVID-19 (AKA THE CORONAVIRUS) UPDATES

Thursday, March 26

CARES ACT Summary

 

Last night the U.S. Senate voted 96-0 to pass the Coronavirus Air, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act).  The CARES Act represents phase-III of congressional action on the Coronavirus pandemic.  The House is expected to pass the measure tomorrow by a voice vote.The final language provides:

  • $349 billion in federally guaranteed loans to businesses
  • A fix to the Qualified Improvement Property (QIP) to allow businesses to immediately write off improvement costs
  • Employee retention tax credit
  • Modifications for Net Operating Losses (NOL)
  • Delay of payment of employer payroll taxes
  • $454 billion for loans, loan guarantees, and investments to the Federal Reserve for businesses
  • Additional tax relief

The National Restaurant Association (NRA) has put together a summary document for the CARES Act and we encourage all businesses to read it.  The NRA will also be hosting a webinar (details in article below) tomorrow, Friday, March 27, 2020 at 12:00PM.

Read the NRA Summary Document

CARES ACT Webinar

Join us as the National Restaurant Association's Public Affairs team does a deep dive into the CARES Act (the third COVID-19 recovery bill). During this webinar, we will discuss what is in the legislation for operators and for their employees as well as a rough timeline of when these aid tools will be available.

When: Friday, March 27, 2020 @ 12:00PM (3:00PM EST)

All attendees are encouraged to read the CARES Act summary document prior to the webinar.

Register for the Webinar

National Restaurant Association Research Group COVID-19 Impact Survey

The National Restaurant Association Research Group developed a brief survey designed to collect important data to inform our ongoing advocacy activities.

Please take a few minutes to complete the survey, and help us advocate for the strongest possible relief package. Your answers are incredibly important, not just for our national advocacy efforts, but also for our efforts right here in Arizona.

Assist in our Advocacy Efforts by Taking the Survey

Job Resources for Restaurant Employees

As restaurants across the State remain closed or open with severely limited operations, many restaurant employees have found themselves without work or with drastically reduced hours.  While the access to unemployment benefits has been expanded, there are still job opportunities out there for interested employees.

Arizona Together has created a centralized depository for all employers needing temporary workers during the crisis.

Access the List of Temporary Job Opening

ServSafe Free Courses on COVID-19: Delivery/Takeout

For 30 years, ServSafe has been at the forefront of preparing restaurant and foodservice workers to deliver safe dining experiences for their guests, while also keeping themselves safe. Every day, we train the restaurant and food service industry on topics like cooking temperatures, safe storage, and cross contamination, as well as hygiene, sanitation, and other risk mitigation activities.

Because of the challenges presented by COVID-19, we have developed a set of free 10-minute courses aimed at keeping our workers and the dining public safe during delivery and takeout operations.

Access the Courses

Wednesday, March 25

DOL Issues Guidance on Families First Coronavirus Response Act

On March 20, 2020, the National Restaurant Association sent a letter to the Secretary of the Department of Labor, Eugene Scalia asking for clarification on a series of questions related to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

On March 24, 2020, the Department of Labor published a Question & Answer page which provides additional guidance and an Employer Fact Sheet. We encourage all businesses owners and operators to read both documents (linked below).   The ARA has also published an initial summary on our website.

DOL FFCRA Fact Sheet

DOL FFCRA Q&A

Read ARA's Summary

CARES Act Delayed - Vote Still Expected

In the early morning hours today, it was announced that Senate Republicans and Democrats had reached a deal in conjunction with the Trump Administration to pass the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act).  By the early afternoon, hopes of quick passage had waned as senators hit a last minute snag regarding the unemployment provisions.  The hope is to still have the Senate vote on the bill before the day is out to allow the House to take up the measure on Thursday.  While final text for the CARES Act has not been released, the latest draft indicated the following provisions would be included:

  • $349 billion in cash flow assistance for businesses
  • A fix to the Qualified Improvement Property (QIP) - accelerated depreciation
  • Modifications for operating losses
  • Delay of employer payroll taxes
  • Additional tax relief
  • $150 billion for severely distressed sectors of the economy

The ARA will provide more information  once the final text of the act is released.

 "Arizona Together" Launched as Resource Hub 

Yesterday, Governor Ducey announced the launch of the Arizona Together initiative to help connect businesses and individuals to available resources, raise money for community organizations, and provide information on volunteer opportunities.

The Arizona Together website will serve as a central hub to access resources through the State and other community organizations.  The website includes sections for restaurant and hospitality employees seeking employment and for businesses looking for relief and resources.

Go to the website

ARA Creates Resource Page for Restaurant Industry

The Arizona Restaurant Association (ARA) has been sending out COVID-19 updates since the beginning of this crisis and has centralized those updates and resources on our COVID-19 page.  As the news and resources available has grown, so has the need to make information easier to access.

To help our members better access vital resources, the ARA has created four separate pages to group resources and information.  Our main COVID-19 page will continue to host all updates but will also have a link to the resource page.

Visit the new resource page

Monday, March 23

Governor Ducey's Executive Order Includes Restaurants as Essential Service

Today, Governor Ducey issued an Executive Order defining what businesses and operations are considered "essential" by the State. The order included restaurants off-premises operations in the list of businesses. This action prohibits counties, cities, and towns from issuing any order that prohibits the performance or function of an essential service. In a press release Governor Ducey said "Arizona is focused on limiting the spread of COVID-19, while providing relief to families, individuals and businesses impacted. This proactive order will ensure the state has one consistent, overarching policy that is based on CDC and public health guidance — allowing business owners and workers to responsibly plan ahead. We will continue to proceed with a calm and steady approach and act with urgency, while providing certainty whenever possible.”

The order defines restaurants off-premises operations as:

  • Restaurants and other facilities that prepare and serve food, but only for consumption off-premises through:
    • in-house delivery
    • third-party delivery
    • drive-thru
    • curbside pickup
    • carry out

The order defines a multitude of other services and business as essential including the suppliers that restaurants rely on.

Read the Governor's Executive Order

AZ Legislature Appropriates $50 Million for Housing and Small Businesses

Today, the Arizona Legislature passed a budget that includes $50 million for the Governor to use in response to the COVID-19 crisis. The monies may be used for:

  • Assistance to businesses with fewer than 50 employees
  • Food bank operations
  • Housing assistance
  • Homeless support

The Governor is expected to approve the budget and release guidance on the use of the monies

Read more

DOL Expected to Release Guidance on Paid Leave

The effective date of COVID-2 (paid leave for workers and tax credits for small and midsize employers) is April 2, 2020. We are expecting the U.S. Department of Labor to start offering preliminary guidance this week on many of the ambiguous provisions that need clarification.

The regulations are likely to come out just before the effective date, so this preliminary guidance will be of great value. Additionally, the IRS is going to allow for expedited advance of the payroll tax credits and will be submitting a streamlined plan, which is expected in the coming week

Read the DOL press release

NRA Recorded Webinar: Coronavirus Labor Law 

In the current coronavirus public health emergency, employers are confronting difficult questions related to employment issues including leave and accommodation, workers’ compensation, Family Medical Leave Act, Americans with Disability Act, and other workplace laws and regulations.

Please watch the recorded webinar featuring Shannon Meade, National Restaurant Association Vice President of Public Policy and Legal Advocacy and legal experts from the law firm Littler Mendelson for a discussion of these topics and other guidance and resources for restaurant industry employers.

Access the webinar

Reminder: New Alcohol Delivery and Takeout Guidance

As a reminder to operators, Governor Ducey issued an order on Thursday that temporarily allows restaurants to offer alcohol for delivery and takeout. This order was made in response to restaurant dining rooms being closed. The Department of Liquor Licenses and Control (DLLC) followed by issuing guidance for restaurants. One key aspect of the Executive Order was the closure of all service in a restaurant's dining room. This includes serving someone a drink while they wait to pick up their food. While restaurants are still allowed to sell alcohol, it must be done for off-premises consumption and in compliance with DLLC's guidance

Read DLLC's guidance

Friday, March 20 - 8:05 pm

Governor Ducey Issues Executive Order Expanding Unemployment Insurance

Today, Governor Ducey issued Executive Order 2020-11 which makes several changes to the unemployment program in Arizona.  These changes were pushed for by the Arizona Restaurant Association to help support the industry's employees.   In a statement, Governor Ducey said "These are important steps to get help to Arizonans out of work and struggling to make ends meet because of COVID-19. These are just some steps out of many we will continue to take to support Arizonans in need during this time — and Arizona will get through this together."

The changes made by the the Governor's order includes:

  • Allows employees that have seen their hours reduced or eliminated to qualify for unemployment benefits.
  • Allows employees who are unable to work due to a quarantine and are out of paid leave to qualify for unemployment benefits.
  • Allows employees who leave employment due to a risk of exposure or infection, or to care for a family member to qualify for unemployment benefits.
  • Waives the one-week waiting period for receiving unemployment benefits.
  • Waives the job search requirement for unemployment benefits.
  • Prohibits the Department of Economic Security from using unemployment benefits grant due to COVID-19 to calculate the employer contribution rate.
  • Applies the order retroactive to March 11, 2020.

The Arizona Restaurant Association thanks the Governor for taking this important step to provide help to our restaurant family during this crisis.

The Arizona Department of Economic Security has set up a resource page for bushiness and employees impacted by COVID-19 which can be found by visiting https://des.az.gov/services/coronavirus

Read the Governor's Executive Order

COVID-19 Emergency Measure Allowing Restaurants to Sell Alcohol for Off-Premise Consumption Guidance

On Friday, March 20, 2020, the Arizona Department of Liquor Licenses and Control (DLLC) issued rules to implement Governor Ducey’s Executive Order 2020-09 which allows restaurants to offer alcohol for sale along with delivery and takeout orders.  Today, DLLC issued a guidance document for implementation.

DLLC Guidance:

  • Restaurant licensees may temporarily sell alcohol through delivery, pick-up, and curb-side service.
  • Restaurant licensees that use pick-up and curb-side to sell alcohol must still only allow individuals 18 or older to sell the alcohol.
  • Beverages sold for delivery, pick-up, or curb-side service must be in a "sealed container" - a sealed container is any container of spirituous liquor which:
    • has an unbroken tax seal from the United States, or
    • has a cap, cork, or seal placed there by the manufacture.
  • Licensees may sell mixed drinks if they seal the container before removing it from the licensed premises and ensure the seal remains in place until the consumer takes possession.
  • Licensees may seal containers by capping and applying a plastic adhesive seal or by corking flush with the top of the bottle.

Licensees using delivery to sell alcohol must comply with the documentation requirements outlined by DLLC which can be accessed by visiting https://azliquor.gov/forms/inv_recdelivery_access.pdf

Arizona Restaurant Association Guidance:

Third-party delivery services

Alcohol deliveries should be made by restaurant employees and only made to individuals over the age of 21 with an ID that matches the name on the form of payment. Third-party delivery services lack crucial safeguards that help protect you from losing your liquor license, liability damages, and reputational damages. There is currently no way for third-party delivery services to perform proper ID checks and verify the ID matches order details nor is there a way for this to be documented as part of the record requirements. Additionally, since orders processed by third-party delivery services are paid to the third-party delivery service and not directly to the restaurant it would be a violation of Arizona Liquor Law since payment for alcohol must be paid to a licensed establishment. It is for these reasons we strongly advise against offering alcohol for sale through a third-party delivery service at this time until further clarification is offered by the appropriate authorities.

Insurance Considerations

There are two important insurance issues to consider when thinking about offering alcohol for sale with delivery or takeout.The first, does your liquor liability coverage have an exclusion for alcohol delivery or takeout and is your coverage sufficient for the expanded activity? You are highly encouraged to check with your broker and ask if you are covered at the appropriate level of your new offering.Second, if you are using employees to perform the delivery of alcohol (which is recommend by the ARA – see above) in their personal vehicles, you should check with your broker to make sure you have the proper coverage for DELIVERY. Your employees will need to have certain minimum limits on their personal coverage, and they should check to see if they are allowed to use their vehicles for business purposes. Ask your broker if the combination of your employee’s personal auto policy and your business auto policy is enough to protect you? Bottom line check with your broker and describe the activity you will be performing and ensure your policies are able to cover you!

We highly encourage restaurants to reach the full DLLC guidance memo by clicking the button below.

Read DLLC Guidance on Alcohol Delivery and Pick-Up

Friday, March 20

Governor Ducey Announces Restaurant Closures in Counties with Confirmed COVID-19 Cases

Last night Governor Ducey announced that he was taking additional steps to curb the spread of COVID-19. One such step is ordering the restriction of restaurant activities to takeout, drive-thru and delivery options. In a statement the Governor said “These latest actions are based on the facts and on data, and come after careful consultation with public health experts from every county in Arizona, our hospitals, local elected officials, and private sector partners.”

Provisions of the new order include:

  • Beginning at the close of business on Friday, March 20, restaurant operations are restricted to takeout, drive-thru, and delivery options in counties with confirmed cases of COVID-19
  • Beginning at 5:00PM on Friday, March 20, allows restaurants to sell alcohol for delivery and takeout
  • Allows manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers to buy back unopened products from restaurants, bars and clubs
  • Beginning at the close of business on Friday, March 20, closes all bars, theaters and gyms in counties with confirmed cases of COVID-19
  • Halts all elective surgeries to free up medical resources
  • Activates the AZ National Guard to assist grocery stores and food banks with re-stocking and heightened demand
  • Delays expiration dates on Arizona driver licenses for residents over the age of 65

Read Press Release Here

Arizona Restaurant Association Announces Arizona Takeout Week

The Arizona Restaurant Association (ARA) is responding to the recent state of emergency, by creating an all new marketing strategy to help support local dining establishments with the debut of Arizona Takeout Week..

The initiative serves to help diners and those who depend on restaurants as a food source find restaurants offering pick-up, curbside, and delivery options during this time and aid restaurants in marketing their service options during the closure.

“We appreciate and thank Governor Ducey for his efforts in working with the restaurant industry to mitigate the spread of the Coronavirus,” says Arizona Restaurant Association president and CEO Steve Chucri. “The Arizona restaurant family appreciates his work and that of all elected leaders in our State during this unparalleled time in our history.”
The culinary industry has a powerful impact on the state’s economy — and residents’ livelihoods. There are more than 10 thousand dining establishments that employ over 229,000 staff with annual restaurant sales of $13.4 billion.

“At the end of the day, we are the industry of ‘happy’ and that is what the hospitality industry represents. We hope to bring a bit of happiness to Arizonans during this extremely difficult time through Arizona Takeout Week while keeping our employees and restaurants afloat, Chucri continued.”

This initiative is free for restaurants and all are invited to email their current menus and service hours to takeout@azrestaurant.org.

Read Press Release Here

AZ Senate Approves Unemployment Overhaul Bill

Yesterday, the Arizona Senate passed a measure that makes several changes to Arizona’s unemployment benefits program. The measure includes several priorities the Arizona Restaurant Association has been advocating for. As passed the measure:

  • Allows the Arizona Department of Economic Security (AZDES) to increase unemployment benefits in accordance with the federal monies recently appropriate by Congress.
  • Declares the intent of the legislation is to provide additional resources and flexibility for the unemployment insurance program for individuals and businesses affected by the coronavirus.
  • Excludes increased benefits charged against an employer from the coronavirus response from being used in calculating the employer contribution rates.
  • Increases the population of employees and employers that can participate in the Share Work Program.
    • The Shared Work Program allows employers that reduce an employee’s hours between 10% and 40% and for the impacted employees to qualify for a portion of their unemployment benefit while keeping their job.
    • This bill increases the eligibility requirement by adjust the top line lost hours from 40% to 80%. So now employers with employees that see hours reduced between 10% and 80% will be able to participate in the program.

We were hopeful that the Arizona House of Representatives would act quickly, but they instead adjourned until Monday.   This measure is on the Association's top priorities and we will be pushing very hard for the House to act quickly on Monday.

Additional Guidance for Restaurants Shutting Down Draft Systems

As restaurants go through the process of shutting down operations or reducing operation should take steps to protect their draft system. Crescent Crown has provided recommendations from the Brewers Association on Draught Quality During Extended Bar/Restaurant Shutdown.

Read the Recommendations

Thursday, March 19

SBA Approves Loans for Arizona Businesses Affected by COVID-19

Today, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) approved an Economic Injury Disaster Loan declaration for Arizona that will help small businesses here in the state impacted by COVID-19. Individual businesses can be eligible for up to $2 million through the program.

The loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of COVID-19’s impact. The interest rate is 3.75 percent for small businesses without credit available elsewhere. The interest rate for non-profits is 2.75 percent. SBA offers loans with long-term repayments in order to keep payments affordable, up to a maximum of 30 years. Terms are determined on a case-by-case basis, based upon each borrower’s ability to repay. Small businesses throughout the entire state that fit these criteria are eligible.

Apply for an SBA Loan

AZ Legislature Introduces Emergency Measure to Strengthen Unemployment Benefits

Yesterday, the Arizona Legislature introduced an emergency measure to create more flexibility in Arizona’s unemployment insurance program. This is an important step that will allow Arizona to access federal funds and get more money into the pockets of workers impacted by this crisis. The Legislature will be voting on a series of amendments today to strengthen the program and we will provide more information as it becomes available.

Unemployment Update

For the past week, the Arizona Restaurant Association has been advocating for the Governor to make changes to Arizona's unemployment programs.  These changes include waiving the one-week waiting period, waiving the job search requirements, waive any fees or increased payments required by employers, and create a streamlined portal for our employees to utilize to quickly access benefits.  However, since we know employers and employees need information now, we are providing the following while we wait on government action.

For Employers

Employers can access information on current unemployment programs by visiting:

https://des.az.gov/services/employment/unemployment-employer.

Additionally, Employers looking at reducing hours but keeping employees on should investigate Shared Work Program. The Share Work Program, administered by the Arizona Department of Economic Security (AZDES), is designed to allow employees to have seen their hours reduced to access a portion of unemployment while remaining employed.  To apply for the Shared Work Program, please visit

https://des.az.gov/services/employment/unemployment-employer/shared-work-program-faqs

For Employees

Employees can apply for unemployment coverage by visiting:

https://des.az.gov/services/employment/unemployment-individual

PLEASE NOTE: The information provided here is likely to change with requirements changing with recent law changes and anticipate executive action.   Please check our website for any updates and watch for future emails announcing changes.

Arizona @ Work

Arizona Restaurant Association Seeks Relief for Restaurants and Employees

Earlier this week, the Arizona Restaurant Association (ARA) sent a letter to Governor Doug Ducey and Legislative Leaders seeking a series of executive and legislative actions to provide much-needed support for our industry and our employees. Specifically, the ARA is asking for the State Government to:

  • Enhance Arizona’s unemployment insurance program by:
    • Waiving the one-week waiting period
    • Waiving the job search requirement
    • Allowing employers to keep employees “technically” employed but with reduced or no-hours of work while allowing those impacted employees to access unemployment benefits
    • Removing all costs to employers for increased claims of unemployment
    • Create a one-stop-shop resource for employees needing support and employers needing to provide information to their employees
  • Extend the filing period for sales tax remittance by 90-days
  • Extend the filing period for estimated income tax payments by 90-days
  • Authorize restaurants with a series-12 liquor licenses to sell sealed bottles of wine and beer for to-go and delivery orders
  • Appropriate $100 million to a discretionary account
    • $50 million to supplement unemployment insurance payments

$50 million to provide short-term, zero-interest loans to businesses

Click Here to Read the Letter

Phoenix Delays Vote on Mayor Gallego’s Emergency Declaration until Friday

After several hours behind closed doors, the Phoenix City Council emerged late last night and punted a decision on approving Mayor Gallego’s Emergency Declaration until tomorrow. The Council’s action leaves the order for restaurants located in the City of Phoenix to remain closed (except for take-out and delivery) in effect. The council will revisit the issue at a special meeting on Friday, March 20 at 12:00PM.

Tempe Mayor Orders Restaurant dining rooms closed

Earlier this afternoon, Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell announced that he had issued an order which requires restaurant activities be restricted to carry-out, drive-thru, curbside pickup, and delivery.

Details of closure order:

Effective Date: March 19, 2020 at 8:00PM
End Date: Undefined
Specifics: Restricts restaurant activities to delivery and to-go orders.

Click Here to Read the Letter

Wednesday, March 18 - 7:41 pm

Sedona Mayor Orders Restaurant Dining Rooms Closed

Earlier this afternoon, Sedona Mayor Sandy Moriarty announced that she had updated the city’s emergency proclamation which requires restaurant activities be restricted to carry-out, drive-thru, curbside pickup, and delivery.

Details of closure orders:

  • Effective Date: March 19, 2020 at 11:50 PM
  • End Date: April 1, 2020 at 12:00 AM
  • Specifics: All restaurants, food courts, cafes, coffeehouses, retail food facilities, and other similar businesses and establishments are prohibited from serving food and beverages on their premises. Businesses are encouraged to offer food and beverages using delivery service, window service, drive-through service, or drive-up service, and to use precautions in doing so to mitigate the potential transmission of COVID-19, including social distancing. The Mayor also order the closure of all bars, taverns, brew pubs, breweries, microbreweries, distilleries, wineries, tasting rooms, special licensees, clubs, and other similar businesses and establishments offering alcoholic beverages of spiritous liquor for consumption on-premises.
  • Next Activity: The City will reassess the order prior to April 1.
  • https://www.sedonaaz.gov/Home/Components/News/News/5071/473

Employee Workforce Reduction and Hour Reduction Update

  • With several cities closing access to restaurants and many other restaurants feeling the slow-down in customers many are being faced with the horrible choice of laying off employees to allow them to access unemployment benefits. One alternative to this is Shared Work Program.
  • The Shared Work Program, administered by the Arizona Department of Economic Security (AZDES), is designed to allow employees who have had their hours reduced, to access a portion of unemployment while remaining employed.

Employers interested in participating in this program need to fill out an application which can be found on the AZDES website or by clicking here.

Wednesday, March 18 - 3:07 pm

Phoenix, Flagstaff, and Tucson close restaurant dining rooms

On Monday, Mayor Coral Evans in Flagstaff announced that she had declared an emergency and ordered that restaurant activities be restricted to carry-out, drive-thru, curbside pickup, and delivery.   On Tuesday the Mayors of Phoenix and Tucson also issued orders closing restaurants for on-premise consumption.

Details of closure orders:

City of Phoenix

  • Effective Date: March 17, 2020 at 8:00PM
  • End Date: Undefined
  • Specifics: Requires bars to close and restricts restaurants (or bars that serve food) to takeout, delivery, or drive-thru activity.
  • Next Activity: The Phoenix City Council will be voting on Mayor Gallego’s emergency declaration at their regular council meeting today.
  • https://twitter.com/MayorGallego/status/1240067805531131904/photo/1

City of Tucson

  • Effective Date: March 17, 2020 at 8:00pm
  • End Date: April 1, 2020 at 12:00AM
  • Specifics: All restaurants, food courts, cafes, and coffeehouses, retail food facilities and other similar businesses are prohibited from serving food and beverages for consumption on premises.  Businesses are encouraged to offer food and beverages using delivery, window service, drive-thru or curbside service.  Bars, taverns, brew pubs, breweries, microbreweries, distilleries, wineries, and tasting rooms are closed.
  • Next Activity:  The City will reassess the need for the order prior to April 1, 2020.
  • https://www.tucsonaz.gov/files/PROCLAMATION.pdf

City of Flagstaff

  • Effective Date: March 17, 2020 at 8:00pm
  • End Date: April 2, 2020 at 12:00am
  • Specifics: All restaurants, food courts, cafes, coffeehouses, retail food facilities, and other similar businesses and establishments are prohibited from serving food and beverages for consumption on premises. Members of the public are prohibited from entering and remaining to dine or consume beverages. Businesses that typically offer food and beverages for on-premises consumption are instead encouraged to offer food and beverage using delivery, window, drive-thru or drive-up service. If a business chooses to offer this type of “to-go” service, members of the public may remain on its premises for the purpose of picking up their food or beverage orders.  The order also closes the following: Bars, taverns, brew pubs, breweries, microbreweries, distilleries, wineries, tasting rooms, special licensees, clubs, and other similar businesses and establishments offering alcoholic beverages for on-premise consumption.
  • Next Activity: The City will reassess the need for the order prior to April 2.
  • https://www.flagstaff.az.gov/AlertCenter.aspx?AID=COVID19-closures-2

If you are a restaurant in one of these cities or you are considering going to a carry-out, curbside pickup, drive-thru, or delivery model only, consider the following:

  • Does the revenue model for carry-out, curbside pickup, drive-thru, or delivery only meet or exceed your required expenditures?
  • If not, is it worth staying open with a negative revenue model? How long can you operate in a negative revenue model?
  • Consider the options of taking on additional debt
    • SBA Loans may become available
  • Have a discussion with your landlord to reduce rents to somewhere around 6% of sales while operations are closed or reduced and for a period after full operations resume. Landlords should be our partners and be able to provide flexibility in this difficult time.
  • Contact your utility companies and inquire about the programs they have to help businesses and your employees during this time. This may consist of a pause on payments.

If you choose to temporarily close all operations, considering using the following sample closing procedures:

A special thank you to our friends at 99 Restaurants, Darden Restaurant Company, and 110 Grill for furnishing their restaurant closing operational manuals

  • Let staff take any food that cannot be frozen/saved
  • Remove all trash from the building/cancel dumpster pickups
  • Take pourers off and tightly wrap open bottle tops of liquor in saran
  • Leave all exhaust fans running – in the unlikely event a gas leak or pilot goes out during the closing, the fans will help to exhaust any hazardous gas from the building
  • Turn off any autopayment processes
  • Cancel any scheduled deliveries. Examples include:
    • Food and liquor distributors
    • Knife sharpening
    • Sanitary supplies
    • Produce
    • Beer line cleaning
    • Soft-drink distributors
    • Linen
    • Dumpster
    • Cable/TV
    • Music service
    • Armored Car pickup
  • Close out your month end procedures
  • Alert your payroll company to any layoffs and changes in payroll you are making
  • Ensure you have updated contact info for all your employees
  • Alert your health insurance provider to any layoffs or elimination of benefits
  • Forward any email addresses for the restaurant
  • Forward the restaurant phone line
  • Cancel all reservations
  • Take a final inventory of all food and beverage items remaining
  • Prepare and transfer all perishable food
  • Ensure all alcohol is locked in cages or an office
  • Clean/blowout beer lines
  • Set your thermostats to save on electricity without shutting the system off completely. Reconditioning the building after the air has been shut off can cause compromised HVAC systems to fail
  • Set any tankless water heaters to off and shut off any gas supply
  • Turn off water circulator pump
  • Turn off all gas to kitchen equipment
  • Ensure all kitchen knobs are set to the “off” position
  • Empty all refrigeration on the line, unplug and leave doors open
  • Unplug all refrigeration at the bar, remove any items that may spoil and leave doors open
  • Ensure all lights are off in walk-ins, kitchen, dining room, and offices
  • Ensure all doors are locked
  • Remove all trash from the building and reline all cans
  • Perform a final walkthrough to ensure all walk-in doors are closed and all exterior doors are locked
  • Turn off any entertainment electronics
  • Pull inside all patio furniture

For a printable version of this, please click here.

Monday, March 16

Today the White House issued updated guidance on the COVID-19 pandemic. The President presented the plan as a 15-day measure to slow the spread of the disease. The 15-day guidance includes:

• Avoid eating or drinking at bars, restaurants, and food courts – use drive-thru, pickup, or delivery options.
• Work or engaging in schooling from home whenever possible.
• Avoid social gatherings in groups of more than 10 people.
• Avoid discretionary travel, shopping trips, and social visits.
• Do not visit nursing homes or retirement or long-term care facilities unless to provide critical assistance.
• Practice good hygiene.

The reference to avoiding eating or drinking at bars and restaurants is the first mention we have seen of this restriction at the national level. While this plan is just guidance and non-binding we have seen several states that have already made the decision to close restaurants and bars.
HOWEVER, THAT IS NOT THE CASE IN ARIZONA AT THIS TIME.
Shortly after the White House statement, Governor Ducey held a press conference and said the state would be updating their rules after reviewing the new White House guidelines. The Governor did not say what those changes would look like but did issue the following statement:

“Arizona continues to take proactive measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health and well-being of Arizona citizens. With new guidelines announced moments ago by the White House and federal health officials, I will be working with Dr. Cara Christ and the Arizona Department of Health Services to ensure Arizona complies and updates our guidance to reflect these new recommendations. We will be working with county health officials, community leaders and the private sector to implement these guidelines.”

The ARA anticipates new rule/guidelines to be released by the State shortly and will continue to engage with decision makers and keep the industry updated.

Wednesday, March 11

On February 12, 2020, before The U.S. was measurably impacted by COVID-19, the Arizona Restaurant Association (ARA) sent out an article titled “Coronavirus and Restaurants – Information and Tools” which provided restaurant operators with information on the virus and initial guidance.

Today, the ARA felt an update was important for our members given the World Health Organization (WHO) declaring the COVID-19 crisis a pandemic and Arizona Governor Ducey declaring a public health emergency for the State of Arizona. Governor Ducey’s intent for declaring an emergency was to stay ahead of the virus and to give health care providers and health agencies the tools they need.

In an effort to provide you and the public with the most up-to-date information the ARA has compiled the information below and will very soon have a public facing flyer that restaurants can use to educate their customers about what restaurants are doing to keep them safe.
It is important for the public to understand the steps restaurants are already taking to keep everyone safe. Below is a summary of what is already in place to protect you, your employees, and the public, plus a list of additional guidance for restaurants.

What is already happening to keep customers and employees safe:

  • Restaurants follow strict guidelines set forth in the food code and by our local health departments which requires our employees to be trained in and adhere to food safety standards.
  • Restaurants encourage everyone to wash their hands often and with a proper technique, and to stay home when they are not feeling well.
  • Arizona has a mandatory Paid Sick Time law that gives employees and our patrons the ability to stay home without undue financial strain.
  • Food served at restaurants is stable and safe with our supply chains unimpacted by the virus and our food preparation requirements ensure a safe to consume product.
  • According to the Federal Government the risk of contracting COVID-19 for an average American is still low.

Practical Guidance for Restaurant Operators:

  • Review your staff’s ServSafe food manager and food handler certifications are up to date.
  • Review your establishments Paid Sick Time policy and ensure it is communicated clearly to your staff – encourage staff members to use this time off if they are not feeling well.
  • Review and reinforce safe sanitation and personal hygiene processes, including washing your hands for at least 20 seconds using soap and warm water.
  • Reinforce your policies on washing, rinsing, and sanitizing food contact surfaces including sinks, tables, equipment, utensils, thermometers, equipment and public areas including tables and contact areas in the front of the house.
  • Do not rely on surgical or similar face masks to keep you safe, these masks are permeable to airborne matter and do not provide protection.
  • Keep your eye on your local county health department and the Arizona Department of Health Services guidance. While the federal government is tracking the overall spread of the virus, they are looking to our state and local officials to make on the ground decisions impacting the local community.
  • Keep reminding employees and patrons that restaurant dinning is safe when employees practice good and effective personal hygiene and restaurants properly and thoroughly clean their facilities.
The National Restaurant Association has put together several resources for members to use with their employees. Please click the button below for the National Restaurant Association's COVID-19 Resource page.

COVID - 19 Resources:

Coronavirus Information and Resources

The ARA is in regular contact with local and state health officials and will continue to push out all relevant information. Please contact Dan Bogert if you have any questions by email or phone at dan@azrestaurant.org or 602-307-9134 Ext. 122.