Wednesday, August 12
President Trump’s Executive Actions and the COVID-19 Relief Package
On Saturday, President Trump followed through with a threat to issue a series of Executive Orders if Congress could not reach a compromise on a fourth COVID-19 relief measure. The orders aim to deliver additional jobless benefits, payroll tax relief, slow evictions, and assist with student loan repayment. The actions include:
- Extended unemployment benefits – $44 billion has been diverted from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to provide $400 a week in enhanced unemployment benefits. The federal government would provide 75 percent of the payment, with the states providing the rest. The President’s memo orders the aid to last through December 6th, or until funding runs outs, which could be much sooner than December 6th with tens of millions on unemployment.
- Payroll tax deferral – instructs the Secretary of Treasury to halt collection of payroll taxes from September 1st through the end of the year for workers who earn less than $4,000 every two weeks (around $104,000 per year). During the signing, Trump called on Congress and Democratic Nominee Joe Biden to commit to making the deferral a permanent tax cut. The president also mentioned hoping to make this deferral retroactive to August 1st and promised he would seek to relieve the tax liability if reelected.
- Eviction moratorium – While not binding, President Trumps’ memo to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) calls on those agencies to “consider” whether an eviction ban is needed. This action does not reauthorize the moratorium included in the CARES Act or explicitly halt evictions. However, the directive does include potential financial assistance from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for struggling renters and homeowners.
- Student loan relief– This memo waives all interest on federally held student loans through the end of 2020 and allows people to delay payments until December 31st.
What this Means for Timing on the Next COVID Relief Package
It is very difficult to predict if a package will come together this week. Arguably, both parties recognize how critical it is to our nation, and the economy, to pass the measure prior to going on recess. At the same time, they are far apart on several key pieces and a deal may prove to be elusive to reach. One option could be to pass a small “skinny bill,” which covers the narrow issues that the parties can agree upon, pushing a broader deal down the road. But, even the likelihood of a skinny bill passing is in question, given the broader dynamics on reaching an agreement.
Of note, if a deal is not reached this week, it is likely that both parties will walk away and recess until their national conventions conclude (Democratic August 17-20, Republican August 24-27). Under this scenario, the parties would return in September and presumably work to reach a much larger agreement that would cover another round of COVID relief and a large appropriations package to fund the government through the remainder of the year.
Monday, August 10
ADHS Issues Benchmarks and Requirements for Restaurants and Bars
Today, the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) announced benchmarks for reopening restaurants and bars with series 6 and series 7 liquor licenses and new requirements for all license types.
On June 27, Governor Ducey issued Executive Order 2020-43 “Pausing of Arizona’s Reopening.” This order closed restaurants and bars with series 6 and series 7 liquor licenses whose primary business was the sale of alcohol. On July 23, that order was extended, with a review every two weeks.
ADHS used the school benchmarking guidelines as a template for restaurants and bars. The benchmarks are classified into “minimal,” “moderate,” and “substantial” transmission categories as defined by the CDC. Reopening of these establishments will be determined on a county by county basis and will be linked to the classified transmission categories. ADHS has created a “business dashboard” to track which counties fall into the minimal, moderate, and substantial categories. As of this week, only La Paz and Yavapai Counties fall in the “moderate” category with all other counties still listed as “substantial.”
- The categories are defined as:
“Substantial” means a county with over 100 or more cases per 100,000 people, a 10% or greater positivity rate, and 10% of more of COVID-like illness (CLI).
- “Moderate” means a county with between 10 and 99 cases per 100,000 people, a 5% to 10% positivity rate, and 5% to 10% CLI.
- “Minimal” means a county with less than 10 cases per 100,000 people, less than 5% positivity rate, and less than 5% of CLI.
ADHS has issued two separate documents related to restaurants and bars:
- Requirements for Bars and Nightclubs Not Operating as a Restaurant
- Requirements for Restaurants and Bars Providing Dine-In Services
There is still confusion on which establishments will fall into each of the above categories and the ARA is seeking clarification on this.
The process for reopening is twofold. First, each establishment must complete an Attestation Form. For those establishments in counties meeting the specified level of transmission, these forms should be automatically approved. For those establishments in counties not meeting the specified level of transmission, the form will be automatically denied. Once denied, establishments can either choose to wait until their county meets the reopening requirements and resubmit, or they can appeal the denial. During the appeals process ADHS will evaluate your plan and ability to operate safely. It is still unclear what standards ADHS will apply in determining an appeal.
Once operating with in-person service again, establishments are required to follow the standards previously outlined for restaurants plus additional restrictions. These include:
- Prohibiting open seating (defined as a customer choosing their own seat or having the ability to move seats). Customers must be brought to their designated seating area (including any bar top seating) by a staff member.
- Assigning an employee to monitor and enforce physical distancing in any locations where queues may form, or patrons may congregate.
- Eliminating any indoor standing room where patrons can congregate.
- Closing communal spaces and common areas where people are likely to congregate and interact.
- Prohibiting dancing and repurpose any dance floor or area for seating or close it off.
- Closing off access to parlor games (pool, darts, or other games commonly associated with eating and drinking establishments).
- Prohibiting Karaoke or other live performances in which customers are active participants.
- Eliminating instances where customers could share food, such as bowls of food (nuts, chips, etc.).
NOTE: While it is still unclear, it appears that these new requirements apply to every liquor licensee and not just series 6 and series 7. If you are currently operating as a restaurant (i.e. a series 12 or any other retail license), please review the new operational requirements.
More clarity is needed from ADHS and the ARA is working on finding answers to many questions. In the meantime, we will continue to fight for uniformity for BARS and RESTAURANTS and to find expedited and equitable ways to reopen series 6 and 7 licensed establishments.
Stay tuned for further updates.
Wednesday, August 5
Action Needed on PPP
Did you know that restaurant operators who had Payroll Protection Program (PPP) loans forgiven may lose some key tax deductions, creating a surprise tax liability? And that the majority of restaurants might not be eligible for a new round of PPP funding? These two critical issues are why you need to take action now.
As Congress tries to move towards agreement on a final COVID relief package, plans have emerged for a new round of PPP funding that would require businesses to demonstrate a 50% loss of revenue. According to recently released data, 55% of restaurants that are losing money would not be eligible for this new funding! Congress must fix the legislation to ensure that more restaurants—the hardest hit businesses by the COVID-19 pandemic—are eligible.
When Congress created PPP, its intent was for business expenses paid by PPP to be tax deductible. However, guidance from the IRS says that expenses paid for with a forgiven loan are now taxable.
Take action now to help protect restaurants from surprise tax liabilities!
Restaurants across the country may soon face surprise tax liability when they can least afford it. Some restaurants have indicated that this surprise tax liability could be the final factor that causes them to close. Congress must make business expenses paid for by PPP tax deductible.
Congress needs to hear from restaurants now. Negotiations are ongoing for this final relief package and time is of the essence!
Wednesday, July 29
Senate GOP Releases HEALS Proposal
Earlier this week, the Senate GOP introduced a series of bills collectively known as the Health Economic Assistance Liability Protection and Schools (HEALS) Proposal. The proposal represents weeks of negotiations between Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and White House officials, including Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.
The GOP has been under mounting pressure to pass the next Coronavirus relief measure quickly with growing concerns about additional state shutdowns and the expiration of the expanded unemployment benefits. However, the bill is far from a finished product and faces opposition from fellow Senate GOP members as well as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats. Yesterday, Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) spoke to the press after a GOP lunch and is quoted as saying “We have unity in disagreement,” when discussing the bill, and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said he believes the negotiations are in the “Second Inning.” One of the biggest disagreements between the Democrats and the GOP involves the $600 in increased federal unemployment benefits, with the Democrats holding firm on wanting an extension through the end of the year and the GOP proposal which seeks to lower this to $200 per week while states transition their unemployment systems to payout 70% of lost wages starting sometime in October. All-in-all, the negotiations have a long way to go.
The proposal is split into three bills and includes many of the priorities in the National Restaurant Association’s Blueprint. The first deals with taxes (including an expansion of the Employee Retention Tax Credit), unemployment benefits, and additional direct payments to residents. The second bill makes changes to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), including additional funding, the ability of hard-hit business (with 50% revenue loss) to take a access a second round of PPP, and the creation of a low-interest loan program. The third bill puts in place liability protections for business that make reasonable efforts to follow public health guidelines.
Wednesday, July 15
Arizona Restaurant Industry COVID-19 Impact Survey
The Arizona Restaurant Association (ARA) continues to advocate on behalf of the industry for additional relief measures and to guard against additional action being taken against the industry. A key aspect of this engagement is being able to present current and relevant data showing the impact of COVID-19.
The ARA developed a brief survey designed to collect important data to inform our ongoing advocacy efforts. Please take a few minutes to complete the survey and help us continue our advocacy efforts.
Show Your Support for the Blueprint for Restaurant Revival
Later this month, Congress will consider their final coronavirus response bill for 2020. From the beginning of this pandemic, the National Restaurant Association has led the charge in Washington for a comprehensive solution to our industry. We have made steady progress, but Congress needs to do much more for the nation’s second-largest private-sector employer.
By the thousands, you responded to our survey identifying the priorities you need for this industry. By a 50/50 tie vote, you identified a $120 billion recovery fund and a second round of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funding as the top goal we should pursue in our advocacy agenda.
We heard you – and we are proud to release our new Blueprint for Revival for the industry. It represents a strong, far-reaching plan for how Congress can advance restaurants in every city and town in this country.
Restaurants have lost more revenue and jobs than any other industry, but there are a lot of competing interests before Congress. We are shouting here in Washington, but policymakers need to hear your voice directly.
Tell Congress to support restaurants and employees. Tell Congress to pass the Blueprint for Restaurant Revival.
We have given Congress a roadmap for action – that calls for either enacting our Restaurant Recovery Fund or implement a targeted second-round of PPP for our industry – as well as other asks that will allow us to keep our doors open for the long haul, and serve the communities we call home. We need your support to bring this effort over the finish line.
Please take action to share your story and lend your voice to this campaign. Every voice counts!
We can’t thank you enough for everything you do.
CDC Social Media Toolkit: COVID-19 Messaging
CDC created this social media toolkit to help localize efforts in responding to the virus that causes COVID-19.
This toolkit provides messages and graphics to help
- Ensure current, correct messaging from a trusted source.
- Create collateral materials.
- Share resources.
Thursday, July 9
Governor Ducey Issues Order on Restaurant Operations
Today, July 9, 2020 Governor Ducey issued Executive Order 2020-47 outlining new COVID-19 mitigation strategies for restaurant operations. Key provisions included in the Executive Order are:
- Restaurant indoor dining is limited to less than 50% of their permitted fire code occupant load.
- Restaurant staff are not included in the occupancy limitation.
- 6-feet of separation must be maintained between parties in all directions; or a glass or plexiglass barrier may be erected between tables.
- Outdoor dining is not limited by occupancy but 6-feet of separation between parties must still be maintained.
- Indoor standing room where patrons can congregate must be eliminated.
The use of reservation systems is encouraged to limit capacity and the congregating of patrons.
- All buffets, cafeteria style and self-serve food bars at restaurants must be closed.
The various county health departments with be responsible for enforcing the occupancy rule, although local law enforcement and the Department of Liquor Licenses and Control still have authority over previous executive orders.
- The order becomes effective at 10:00PM on Saturday, July 11, 2020
Wednesday, July 8
Maricopa County Small Business/Nonprofit Relief Grants
Maricopa County is offering grants up to $10,000* to small businesses and nonprofits experiencing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Relief grants are intended to help for-profit small businesses and 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations with expense reimbursement. For-profit businesses and 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations located in Maricopa County, but not within the cities of Mesa or Phoenix**, are eligible.
Applications will be accepted beginning Thursday, July 9, 2020 through Friday, July 31, 2020.
Thursday, July 2
Phoenix City Council Withdraws Misguided Ordinances
At their last meeting before summer recess yesterday, the Phoenix City Council withdrew three proposed ordinances due to the intense opposition from the restaurant and hospitality community. The same three councilpersons responsible for proposing the ordinances, Vice Mayor Betty Guardado, Councilman Carlos Garcia and Councilwoman Laura Pastor, withdrew the three misguided and burdensome so-called Phoenix Healthy Tourism and Hospitality ordinances from the City Council agenda.
This is a huge victory for the industry as we continue to fight through the COVID-19 pandemic. Thank you to everyone who reached out to the City Council and/or submitted comments. Our collective action was heard loud and clear at the Council.
The Fight Continues
Although the ordinances were withdrawn, and yesterday was the last scheduled meeting before the Council went on recess for the summer, the issue is not dead. The Mayor or any three members of the Council may call a special meeting. The good news is that Mayor Kate Gallego publicly stated that she will not call a special meeting on this topic. However, the same three councilpersons listed above may still do so on their own.
The effect of the withdrawal from the agenda yesterday is to reset the process for the ordinances. City Manager, Ed Zuercher explained that City staff will proceed with public meetings to gather community feedback on these ordinances. It will be very important the the industry stay engaged during this process and continue to communicate with the City Council our strong opposition.
The ARA will continue to provide updates as the process moves forward.
For questions or more information contact Dan Bogert
Input Needed: Restaurant Recovery Priorities
As July 4th draws near, restaurants across the country remain crippled, with challenges that are not going away anytime soon for owners, operators, and employees. For over sixteen weeks, the National Restaurant Association and our state partners have led the charge at the federal, state, and local level in calling for a comprehensive response from our government.
You have answered our calls to action and Congress has heard you – through almost 500,000 emails you’ve sent to Capitol Hill. Republicans and Democrats are considering whether to craft a new coronavirus stimulus bill in late July, and they have asked the National Restaurant Association for guidance on how best to assist the industry.
In April, we wrote congressional leaders to unveil our “Blueprint for Recovery.” But as the challenge to our industry evolves, so should our recovery plan. Working with our membership and our state restaurant association partners, we have a list of potential policy initiatives, but we need your input in identifying which ones to prioritize. We will unveil our updated Blueprint later this month.
We have prepared a survey that outlines our ideas, and allows you to rank the ones that would be most impactful for your restaurant or the industry as a whole. Together, we will continue to advance a policy agenda that reflects the unique needs of this vital industry.
Click the button below to review the survey. Stay safe and have a great holiday weekend.
Wednesday, July 1
ARA Issues City and County Masks Rule Tracking Document
Restaurants Support Anti-Hunger & Restaurant Relief Legislation
A bipartisan coalition of lawmakers in the U.S. Senate recently introduced legislation to expand access to restaurant meals for those with low incomes. The State Emergency Restaurant and Vendor Enhancement (SERVE) and COVID-19 Anti-Hunger Restaurant Relief for You (CARRY) Act will provide additional opportunities for restaurants to help expand food access to low income households during a disaster or public health crisis.
The bill, S. 4061 by Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) authorizes funding to states to contract with restaurants and provide nutrition benefits to low-income participants. It also expands current eligibility under the Restaurant Meals Program and gives the U.S. Department of Agriculture the ability to temporarily waive requirements so restaurants can participate in the program. The bill is a positive step forward to leverage the meal-production support and expertise of restaurants to support communities in times of crisis.
Tuesday, June 30
DLLC Releases Guidance for Restaurants Holding Series 6 and 7 Liquor Licenses
Earlier this evening the Arizona Department of Liquor Licenses and Control (DLLC) published a guidance document for implementing Executive Order 2020-43 which requires bars to shut down for 30 days.
As you may recall from our previous update, the Executive Order stated that restaurants and bars holding a series 6 or 7 liquor license and whose “primary business is the sale or dispensing of alcohol” must pause in-person operations. Our hope was that the guidance from DLLC would provide clarity on the issue. However, the guidance as issued fails to address how an establishment should determine if they fall into this category. Specifically, DLLC states that:
“The Department cannot provide guidance to its thousands of licensees regarding the nature of their business. Each licensee unsure of the requirements are encouraged to consult with their own legal counsel regarding compliance with Executive Order 2020-43.”
The guidance does go on to reference several sources restaurants can utilize in determining if they fall under the exemption. The ARA is analyzing these references and will provide a further update once a clearer picture, if any, emerges. In the meantime, the ARA cautions all restaurants holding a series 6 or 7 license to carefully consider whether to continue to operate without clear guidance. DLLC stated in their guidance that they will immediately suspend licenses of establishments they feel fall under the order.
The ARA will continue to provide updates as more information becomes available.
Monday, June 29
Governor Ducey Issues Order Targeting Restaurants and Bars with Series 6 and 7 Liquor Licenses
Earlier today, Governor Ducey issued Executive Order 2020-43. As part of the order, restaurant and bars holding either a series 6 or series 7 liquor license and whose primary business is the sale or dispensing of alcohol must cease on-site operations at 8:00PM tonight. These businesses may continue to provide service through to-go and delivery, including to-go alcohol. The closure of these locations is effective through at least July 27, 2020.
The Governor’s Office has not released any clarification on how to determine if a restaurant’s “primary business is the sale or dispensing of alcohol.” And, we do not anticipate any such clarification. The ARA has been and continues to be opposed to defining an establishment’s operations by their license type, as many restaurants hold series 6 or 7 licenses but function as a traditional sit-down restaurant.
The ARA will continue to provide updates as more information becomes available.
Phoenix Set to Vote on Last-minute, Secretly Crafted Ordinance
On Friday, the Phoenix City Council amended their agenda for Wednesday July 1, 2020 to include a vote on three proposed City Ordinances that will have devastating effects on Phoenix’s hospitality industry. These proposed laws were only posted on Friday with no industry engagement or time to review. This is after the ARA had sent all members of the Phoenix City Council a letter seeking to engage in any process impacting the hospitality industry. This request was clearly ignored and the plan is to push the ordinance through with as little public input and notice as possible.
Airline Food Caterers – any enterprise that prepares food or beverages for aircraft crew and/or passengers, delivers food or beverage for aircraft crew and/or passengers, or provides any other service in connection with food or beverage for aircraft crew and/or passengers.
Airport Service Providers – any enterprise that prepares or sells food or other retail products or services to customers at the Phoenix Sky Harbor.
Campus Service Providers – any enterprise that prepares or sells food or other retail products to customers at any public or private college or university with more than 1,000 enrolled students.
Event Centers and Stadiums – any enterprise engaged in business at a convention center, stadium, arena, or like venue with a total capacity of at least 1,000 people.
Hotel and their Restaurants – Any hotel with greater than 150 rooms, including any restaurant and any contracted, leased or sublet premises operated in conjunction with a hotel.
While the scope of these ordinances is limited, all employers in the industry should be engaged in this process because if this is allowed to pass it will only be a matter of time before it is expanded.
Among the provisions included in the draft ordinances, the following specifically impact restaurants and other food and beverage providers:
- If an employer refuses to employ, terminates, or takes other adverse action against any employee, the employer must provide a detailed written statement, 60 days before any such action, outlining the reasons for any action and must include all the facts substantiating the reasons and all facts known to the person that contradict the substantiating facts
- No employer may employ someone for more than 180 days without that person passing an established public hygiene training program
- The City is responsible for contracting for this program and there will only be a single provider (this has likely been predetermined and will not be a competitive process)
- Adds mandatory paid 15-minute breaks for all employees every 4 hours
- Require written offers to furloughed employees to be considered for 10 days before another can be hired for the position
- Designates the order you may bring back workers ranked by seniority.
- If an employer declines to offer a furloughed employee a position and instead hires someone new, the employer must:
- Provide the furloughed employee a written notice within 20 business days
- Identify those hired in lieu of the furloughed employee
- Give all reasons for that decision
- Provide all demographic data the employer has about new hires and the rejected furloughed employees
- Adds massive record-keeping requirements and complex regulations
New Partnership with Fever Free to Support Restaurants
We are excited to announce our a new partnership with Fever Free to help give restaurants like you the tools needed to keep your business open and ensure your community is safe. Fever Free is the new standard for employee health and wellness checks and is done conveniently through the mobile app. Fever Free provides the safest, most secure, and cost-effective virtual temperature and health check solution, and is CDC recommended over in-person health screening methods.
Access this informational flyer for more info on how the Fever Free app works and how to get started today!
Keep Your Restaurant Open & Earn Your Badge! Sign Up With Fever Free
- Claim your ARA Members Discount – 22% off, only 7/user/month
by registering using this link: https://fever-free.app.link/ara
- (3-5x more cost-effective than in-person or other options)
- Invite your employees to easily submit daily, remote temperature and symptom checks
- Download the Fever Free app on Apple Store or Google Play
- Display your live Fever Free Workforce badge on your restaurant website. Easy instructions will be sent via email.
- Gain credibility and business through employee and customer peace of mind
Tuesday, June 23
SBA Releases Updated PPP Loan Forgiveness Rules
Last night, the Small Business Administration (SBA) and U.S. Department of Treasury released updated Loan Forgiveness rules. The improvements of the PPP Flexibility Act, new details on loan forgiveness timing, and required documentation for “business activity” exemptions from loan forgiveness reduction are detailed below:
Improvements to PPP:
- Extends the PPP covered period from eight to 24 weeks, or an additional 16 weeks for current PPP recipients.
- PPP recipients who obtained a loan before June 5, 2020 can choose to use the original eight-week period.
- To maximize forgiveness, 60% of PPP loan funds must be spent on payroll expenses (this updates the previous 75% requirement).
- For loan maturity, the minimum maturity is five years for PPP loans made on/after June 5, 2020. Lenders and borrowers can extend the maturity date of earlier PPP loans by “mutual agreement.”
- A restaurant can submit its loan forgiveness application before the end of the covered period if the restaurant has used all of the loan funds for which the business is seeking loan forgiveness.
- The lender has 60 days after receiving a PPP loan forgiveness application to issue a decision on forgiveness to the SBA.
- In turn, the SBA will remit the appropriate forgiveness amount to the lender, plus any interest accrued through the date of payment, no less than 90 days after the lender issues its decision on PPP loan forgiveness to the SBA.
- The lender must inform the borrower of the loan forgiveness amount and the date on which the borrower’s first payment is due, if applicable.
- PPP recipients must certify in “good faith” documentation that their reduction in business activity during the PPP covered period is due to compliance with COVID Requirements or Guidance.
- If PPP recipient maintains this documentation, they are exempt from any reduction in loan forgiveness due to a reduction in FTE employees during the covered period.
- SBA and Treasury believe this includes “both direct and indirect compliance with COVID Requirements or Guidance,” because much of the reduction in business activity due to COVID Requirements or Guidance is the result of state/local government closure orders that are based in part on guidance from the three federal agencies.
For example, if a borrower’s business activity during the covered period was reduced compared to its activity before February 15, 2020 due to compliance with COVID Requirements or Guidelines (such as the prohibition on on-site dining and the social distancing requirements once restaurants were allowed to open back up), the borrower satisfies the PPP Flexibility Act’s exemption and will not have their forgiveness amount reduced because of a reduction in FTE count during the covered period, if the borrower in good faith maintains records regarding the reduction in business activity and any governmental order that reference a COVID requirement or guidance as described above.
The National Restaurant Association and the ARA are continuing to review the new rules and will provide additional updates as needed.
SBA and Treasury Announce Additional Release of PPP Borrower Info
On June 19, Small Business Administration (SBA) and U.S. Department of Treasury announced plans to publicly share PPP recipient business names, addresses, NAICS codes, zip codes, business type, demographic data, non-profit information, jobs supported, and PPP loan amount ranges. The loan amount ranges include:
- $350,000-1 million
- $1-2 million
- $2-5 million
- $5-10 million
Friday, June 19
ARA Issues Updated Guidance for Restaurants
In response to the Governor’s Executive Order on Wednesday the Arizona Restaurant Association (ARA) has updated our operating guidance for restaurants to include the changes provided in the Governor’s Executive Order and follow-up documents.
Additionally, the ARA has also published guidance for restaurants to utilize if one of their employees test positive with COVID-19. To help restaurants better understand how to handle these unfortunate situations we have complied guidance from the CDC together with resources for restaurants to utilize.
As circumstances continue to evolve, the ARA will update guidance accordingly.
Cities and Counties Adopt Mandatory Mask Provisions
Shortly after the Governor issued an order allowing cities and counties to adopt mask wearing policies, cities began to issue proclamations. The ARA continues to encourage cities to work with industry groups prior to adopting a mask wearing policy to avoid unintended conveniences and to avoid wide variations among cities. Unfortunately, this has not been the case and several cities have adopted provisions that require businesses, including restaurants to enforce the ordinance. Requirement, such as mandating restaurants prevent individuals from entering or forcing them to leave for violating a municipal mask order places restaurant employees in dangerous situations. In fact, we have seen several example of violence against restaurant workers throughout the country related to COVID-19 restrictions.
As the ARA continues to work with cities and counties for formulate effective strategies for mask wearing requirements, we encourage operators to review their city’s mandates and the business’s responsibilities.
Wednesday, June 10
Arizona Restaurant Industry Impact Update
The Arizona restaurant industry and its employees have been devastated by the economic fallout caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Among Arizona restaurant operators that haven’t closed permanently, 89 percent say they have laid off or furloughed employees since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak in March.
- Among these restaurant operators that laid off or furloughed employees, the average reduction was 73 percent of the restaurant’s total staff.
- Eighty-one percent of operators who laid off or furloughed staff say they have rehired some of these employees in recent days or weeks. On average, these operators rehired 49 percent of the employees that were laid off or furloughed.
- Looking ahead, 59 percent of operators say they anticipate adding more employees to payroll within the next 30 days.
Consumer spending in restaurants remained significantly dampened in May. Among Arizona restaurant operators that haven’t closed permanently, 95 percent say their total dollar sales volume during the period from May 1 to May 15 was lower than it was during the same period in 2019.
- On average, Arizona restaurant operators reported a 63 percent decline in sales during the period from May 1 to May 15.
- Only a small proportion of restaurant operators reported that their business improved somewhat from April. Among restaurant operators that are open for business in any capacity, 18 percent say their sales increased between the last two weeks in April and the first two weeks in May.
Outlook for Profitability
A strong majority of Arizona restaurant operators are not optimistic that their business will return to normal any time soon. Seventy-two percent of restaurant operators say it is unlikely that their restaurant will be profitable within the next six months, under the assumption that there will be no additional relief packages from the federal government.
PPP Fixes Signed by President Trump
On Friday, President Trump signed the Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act into law. The legislation makes key changes to the PPP, including:
- Extension of the covered period to 24 weeks
- Changing the 75/25 split to a 60/40 split
- Loan forgiveness for FTE changes – Loan forgiveness will not be reduced due to a low FTE count if an employer:
- Makes an effort to rehire an employee but is turned down
- Shows an inability to hire “similarly qualified employees before Dec. 31, 2020
- Shows an inability to return to the “same level of business activity as prior to Feb 15. 2020
- Payroll tax deferment
While the legislation extends aspects like the 24 week period, June 30th is the final day for those who have not previously (you cannot get two) received a PPP loan to be issued one. If you have not previously received or been approved for a PPP loan but are interested in applying, please contact your lender quickly to ensure you can meet the June 30th deadline.
Wednesday, June 3 #2
Congress Passes Fixes to PPP
In a bright moment amidst an awful week for this country, we are pleased to announce that Congress has finally fixed the Paycheck Protection Program.
The PPP has helped countless businesses, but we are an industry with a particularly uncertain path to recovery and it simply hasn’t worked for us.
The National Restaurant Association was one of the first to call for fixes to PPP to preserve our imperiled industry. With the strength of your voice, Congress has finally acted. The Senate just passed the Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act, legislation that would extend deadlines and relax restrictions on how loans are used. The president is expected to sign the bill very soon.
In an era where political discord is the norm and agreement is fleeting, the voice of the restaurant industry has been a unifying theme. This bill passed because Congress heard from us loudly, clearly, and consistently. We appreciate the work of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY).
The PPP has been fixed for many, but our industry faces ongoing challenges and must stay engaged in Washington. We have advanced a number of initiatives, and we will seek your input on how policymakers can provide continued relief to restaurants in these uncertain times.
Today’s action in Congress is a big win, and we cannot thank you enough for answering the call to action.
For questions or more information contact Dan Bogert
Wednesday, June 3
Mesa and Glendale Expedite Extension of Premises Process
Both the City of Mesa and the City of Glendale have announced expedited processes for restaurants interested in extending their premises during the COVID-19 crisis. The City of Glendale will grant 180 day permits to restaurants and have set up a website for interested restaurants, stating that the City of Glendale want to make it easy for existing restaurants to expand their serving areas in order to create more space between diners. The City of Mesa took official action at its June 1 City Council meeting to allow restaurants and other eating and drinking establishments to temporarily expand their services to outdoor areas. In a press release, Mesa Mayor John Giles said “These are extraordinary circumstances we are in and the temporary action will make life a little easier for some of our small businesses struggling financially due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Allowing our restaurants to expand their service areas, with appropriate controls, will benefit the restaurants, the community, and the City.”
Restaurants interested in expanding their premises should first check with their landlord and obtain permission to use space not include in their lease.
The ARA will continue to work with cities and counties around the state to streamline the extension of premises process.
For more information on the City of Mesa’s Extension of Premises, please contact Small Business Assistant Heather Omta at (480)-644-5600 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Help get PPP Fixes Across the Finish Line
Last Thursday the House passed HR 7010 (the Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act), which makes positive changes to PPP. We now need the Senate to take action and need your to get it across the finish line.
The Senate is poised to act on this bill, possibly as soon as today. But, if a single Senator objects, the Senate will have to spend days debating it before a roll call vote is allowed. That delay is too much for many of our nation’s restaurants struggling to make their PPP loans work for them. The Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act makes desperately-needed improvements for restaurants with PPP loans, including:
- Greater flexibility in how a restaurant can use a PPP loan
- Longer time for a restaurant to use a PPP loan
- Improving the rehire deadline to allow a PPP loan to be forgiven
We hope that with prompt fixes to PPP, our industry can emerge from these growing challenges and provide support for the country… one neighborhood at a time
For questions or more information contact Dan Bogert
Sunday, May 31
Governor Ducey Issues Statewide Curfew Starting Tonight
Earlier today Governor Ducey issued a Declaration of Emergency and imposed a Statewide curfew beginning today. The curfew is a direct response to the recent unrest throughout that State that has led to looting and other property damage. Importantly, the curfew is narrowly tailored so that businesses may continue operating and customers may continue to access those businesses during the curfew.
The curfew, which begins tonight, will be in place between the hours of 8:00PM and 5:00AM until Monday, June 8. Specifically the order states the following:
- During the hours of curfew, all persons are prohibited from using, standing, sitting, traveling or being present on any public street or in any public place, including for the purposes of travel, with the following exemptions:
- All law enforcement, firefighters, paramedics or other medical personnel, National Guard, as well as any other emergency response personnel authorized by the State of Arizona, and credentialed members of the media.
- Individuals traveling directly to and from work; attending religious services; commercial trucking and delivery services; obtaining food; caring for a family member, friend, or animal; patronizing or operating private businesses; seeking medical care or fleeing dangerous circumstances; and travel for any of the above services.
The exemptions allow for restaurants to continue to operate during the curfew hours and for patrons to access those restaurants. Additionally, your employees are still allowed to travel to and from work during these hours.
We will continue to monitor the situation and issue further updates as information becomes available.
Thursday, May 28
ACTION NEEDED: Help Get PPP Fixes Across the Finish Line
Today, the House of Representatives passed a bipartisan bill making several fixes to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). While this is great news, we still need the Senate to act and we need your help!
The Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act makes desperately-needed improvement for restaurants with PPP loans, including:
- greater flexibility in how a restaurant can use a PPP loan
- longer time for a restaurant to use a PPP loan
- improvements to the rehiring deadline to allow a PPP loan to be forgiven
The bill was approved overwhelmingly in the House, but it has an uncertain path in the Senate. They need to hear from you now to pass this bill, fix PPP, and preserve America’s restaurants.
Click below or text “FixPPP” to 52886 to take action.
Thank you for your ongoing support.
Guidance on PPP Loan Forgiveness Application
ARA Accounting Partner, Henry+Horne have published guidance on the new PPP loan forgiveness Application.
On May 15th, the SBA released the PPP loan forgiveness application. The application provides additional guidance on the forgiveness calculation. Instructions on calculating FTE (full-time equivalent) employees, calculating wage reductions during the covered period based on the 1st quarter 2020 pre COVID wages earned by employees, and further clarification on expenses incurred and/or paid are included. There are also new items such as an alternative payroll period date, which provides some flexibility for calculating payroll costs during the covered period, and additional FTE reduction exemptions for employees not returning to work after a good faith offer.
City of Tempe Expedites Expansion of Premises
Yesterday, Mayor Mark Mitchell issued a proclamation to help restaruants easily expand their existing premises.
Starting this week, businesses can apply for an expansion of premises permit at no charge. This permit allows businesses to expand into the right of way, their parking lots or other spaces with the appropriate permissions. City staff is expediting review of these applications to ensure the safety of our community and first responders while providing businesses more room to serve customers. Businesses can also use 12 x 12 pop-up tents.
Some Tempe restaurants have removed more than a third of their seating. This expedited permit process is an important step toward helping restaurants survive and thrive.
Tuesday, May 26
Pima County Issues Revised Rules for Restaurants
Last week, the Arizona Restaurant Association and Tucson area restaurants secured a major victory with the Pima County Board of Supervisors on behalf of restaurants. In our previous updates we detailed the regulations that Pima County adopted for restaurants. Those regulations were overly burdensome, had no basis in science, and in many cases were impossible to comply with. Under the original regulations, any restaurant not able to comply would be publicly shamed and receive a civil citation. Through our efforts, the Board met yesterday to adopt a revised version of the regulation and in doing so, adopted the majority of ARA’s recommendations. We were successful is securing the following changes:
- Elimination of the requirement for restaurants to temperature check vendors, contractors, and third-party delivery drivers (this was changed to “when possible”)
- Elimination of handwashing documentation requirement
- Deletion of the requirement for restaurant employees to prevent patrons exhibiting signs of COVID-19 from entering (this was changed to a sign posting requirement)
- Deletion of the requirement for restaurants to post warnings on their websites
- Elimination of the 50% occupancy limitation
- Clarification for bars that 6-foot separation is between “parties” and not “seats”
- Ability to use signs instead of floor markings for 6-foot separation
- Deletion of the provision prohibiting the use of soda refill stations
- Ability to continue to operate without hand sanitizer provided soap and water are readily available
- Deletion of cleaning log posting requirements
We will continue to engage with all levels of government to ensure additional regulations are not placed on our industry and to secure additional relief and temporary privileges, such as extension of premises, for all of Arizona’s restaurants.
Big News on Fixes to PPP
Together, our calls for Congress to fix the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) on behalf of the restaurant industry are making a difference. Tomorrow, House lawmakers will vote to approve bipartisan legislation that will make real changes in PPP, extending the period restaurants can use to spend federal loans, giving more flexibility in how the loans are used, and extending the date that restaurants can bring their teams back online.
For over six weeks, we have worked with you and the National Restaurant Association to push Congress to finally make the PPP work for an industry that has seen more job loss than any other during this pandemic. This week’s scheduled vote is proof-positive that together, we can make a difference.
We thank House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) for their bipartisan leadership in supporting this measure, and Representatives Chip Roy (R-TX) and Dean Phillips (D-MN) for drafting this needed legislation, and Representatives Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ) and David Schweikert (R-AZ) for co-sponsoring.
The Senate is considering how to fix the PPP – and we will need your voice to press for them to finish the job. Stay tuned for an update after the House vote and a call-to-action to move a real PPP fix through the Senate.
Thank you for you fighting for the future of the restaurant industry!
AZDHS Issued FAQ Document for Retail Food
Last week, the Arizona Department of Health Services (AZDHS) released a Frequently Asked Questions document addressing a series of questions regarding reopening retail food establishments. AZDHS addresses several areas of concern for restaurants including:
- Stating that local police departments are responsible for enforcement
- Reiterating the need for employees to wear cloth masks
- Discontinuing self-service buffets, salad bars and beverage stations
It is the ARA’s understanding the AZDHS may release additional FAQs and we will continue to keep you updated on any action.
ARA Presents to Small Business Bootcamp
Tomorrow, May 27, 2020, the Arizona Restaurant Association will participate in the Small Business Bootcamp with the Arizona Commerce Authority. The ARA will be presenting our reopening guidance for restaurants and outlining the various legal requirements and best practices, including:
- Preparing to reopen
- Rehiring staff
- Restaurant Responsibilities & Options
- Social Distancing
- Bars & Bar Areas
- Additional Resources
The presentation will begin at 9:00am
Monday, May 18
SBA Releases PPP Loan Forgiveness Application
On Friday, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), in conjunction with the U.S. Department of the Treasury released the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan forgiveness application with instructions. The SBA will be issuing new guidance in the coming days to inform borrowers of their options.
The application includes several measures, including:
- Options to calculate payroll costs
- Flexibility to include non-payroll expenses
- Step-by-step instructions on how to calculate forgivable amounts
- Statutory exemptions from loan forgiveness reduction based on rehiring by June 30
- Addition of a new exemption from the loan forgiveness reductions for borrowers who made good-faith, written offers to rehire workers, but were declined
City of Phoenix Restaurant Reopening Webinar
Tomorrow, the City of Phoenix is hosting a webinar for restaurants focused on reopening. Mayor Gallego and Councilwoman Stark will open up the webinar, followed by a few restaurants, and then an overview of City resources for restaurants. The Arizona Restaurant Association will close out the webinar by discussing best practices and guidance for restaurants in this new environment.
Date: Tuesday, May 19, 2020
- Introductions/Opening Remarks – Mayor Gallego and Councilwoman Stark
- Restaurants unique challenges and experience – the Breadfruit & Rum Bar, and the Fair Trade Cafe
- City of Phoenix Resources – Christine Mackay, City of Phoenix
- Restaurant Best Practices – Dan Bogert, Arizona Restaurant Association
City of Flagstaff Restaurant Reopening Webinar
The City of Flagstaff has partnered with the Arizona Restaurant Association (ARA) to host a webinar for Flagstaff restaurants on reopening guidance.
Join us on Thursday, May 21, 2020 at 9:00AM for a discussion with ARA President and CEO, Steve Chucri on reopening guidance and best practices.
Date: Thursday, May 21, 2020
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 329 100 6465
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Meeting ID: 329 100 6465
Friday, May 15
Pima County Ignores Governor’s Order, ARA Warnings, and Adopts Misguided Rules for Restaurants
On Wednesday, the Pima County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 along party lines to place a series of previous recommendations into code and adopted a fine for non-compliance. Prior to the adoption by the County, the Arizona Restaurant Association had communicated a series of concerns about the rules which create unsafe practices and place unnecessary liability on the backs of restaurants. Additionally, the ARA sent a letter to the Board of Supervisors detailing our deep concerns with the County’s response to our first letter, including their non observance of scientific evidence.
In response to Pima County’s actions, Sen. Vince Leach (R-LD11), Rep. Mark Finchem (R-LD11), and Rep. Bret Roberts (R-LD11) filed a complaint with Attorney General Mark Brnovich asking if the Pima County proclamation is in violation A.R.S. 26-307 and Executive Order 2020-36, which prohibits cities and counties from issuing rules or regulations that is in addition to or conflicts with the policy, directives, or intent of the Executive Order. Pima County has until Tuesday, May 19, 2020 to respond to the complaint.
The Arizona Restaurant Association continues to implore the County to revise their rules to reflect scientific evidence, best practices, public health advice, and industry standards.
As passed, the Pima County Proclamation requires restaurants operating in the County to follow the following rules or face citations and fines:
- Minimum employee, vendor, delivery service and patron health and wellness measures:
- Wellness/symptom checks, including temperature checks for all restaurant personnel, and when possible for vendors, contractors, third party delivery service workers, etc. as they arrive on premises and before opening of a restaurant.
- Cloth masks and gloves and frequent hand-washing is required for all servers and restaurant personnel. Server gloves not required if the operator can document that server hands are sanitized between servings.
- Any patron exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 is prohibited from entering the facility.
- Minimum restaurant operation measures:
- Physical and/or electronic signage posting at the restaurant entrance (and on the restaurant website) of public health advisories prohibiting individuals who are symptomatic from entering the premises.
- Indoor occupancy limited to 50 percent or lower.
- Service by take out, reservation or call ahead seating only, including text and/or telephone notification of patrons requesting restaurant in-person service, allowing restaurant patrons to physically distance until called for service.
- Physical distancing of 6 feet minimum between tables. Bar top seating is not allowed.
- Clearly marked 6-foot spacing marks along entrances, hallways, restrooms and nay other location within a restaurant where ques may form or patrons may congregate.
- Parties no larger than 10 allowed per table.
- Menus must be in a format that does not promote potential virus transmission e.g. menu boards, single use menus.
- Elimination of self-service stations including salad bars, buffets, soda refill stations.
- Expansion of outdoor service areas to increase physical distancing standards.
- Hand sanitizers available at the entrances to the facility, restrooms and in employee work areas.
- Sanitize customer areas after each sitting with EPA-registered disinfectant including but not limited to: tables, tablecloths, chairs/booth seats, table-top condiments and condiment holders.
- Post documentation cleaning logs online and available upon request at the entrance document cleaning of all public areas (inclusive of counter tops, door handles, waiting areas, etc.) at least every 2 to 3 hours.
The proclamation also includes the following measures that are not enforceable:
- Implement touchless payment methods
- Restaurant personnel to have a national certification in food safety and handling, as well as specific training in the prevention of COVID-19.
The Arizona Restaurant Association will continue to fight against these harmful rules that have the end result of creating a more dangerous environment for our customers and employees.
House Considers HEROES Act
Today, the U.S. House of Representatives is expected to pass, along party lines, the House Democrats “Phase Four” response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Dubbed the “HEROES Act,” the measure has provisions that are very important to our industry (including our approach to improving the PPP program), and provisions that will be more challenging for us (extension of enhanced unemployment, extension of emergency paid-sick leave/FMLA).
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer has endorsed the PPP changes and will seek to integrate them into anything moving in the Senate. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is likely to pursue a different approach to his “Phase Four” bill, focusing largely on liability safe harbors for businesses that are reopening.
Monday, May 11
Association’s PPP Lobbying Effort Sees Movement
After a month of demonstrating to Congress and the Treasury Department, the shortcomings of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) for the restaurant industry, the first signs that changes may be on the way emerged today. Secretary Mnuchin indicated today in an interview with CNBC that a series of technical changes to the PPP will likely be made to address concerns from restaurants.
“One of the things we’re particularly sympathetic to are the restaurants,” Mr. Mnuchin said. “Many restaurants are just beginning to open up and have said they’d like to hold the money. They can’t do that; that’s not something we can do. But we’ll look at a technical fix.”
The National Restaurant Association welcomes the comments by Secretary Mnuchin acknowledging that restaurants need more flexibility.
“As currently structured, the PPP creates an unworkable structure for the vast majority of restaurants. As states begin lifting their stay-at-home orders, it will take some weeks – or months – for restaurants to ramp up operations and restock inventory, recruit and retrain staff, comply with new health codes, etc.” Said Sean Kennedy, Executive Vice President for Public Affairs.
City of Mesa Launches ‘Mesa CARES’ Small Business Grants
Last week, the City of Mesa announced the launch of Mesa CARES Small Business Reemergence Program. The goal is to help Mesa small businesses financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic with up to 90 days utility and rent/mortgage assistance. Applications for the Mesa CARES Small Business Reemergence Program will be available starting today. The program is designed to provide grants to eligible, Mesa-based businesses impacted by required business closures or limited services mandated by statewide Executive Orders.
“More than half of small business owners surveyed by the City of Mesa said they were significantly affected by COVID-19,” Mayor John Giles said. “The Mesa CARES Small Business Reemergence Program is a lifeline to help our businesses get back on their feet.”
To be eligible, businesses must be located within the City of Mesa, not have received any COVID-19 related assistance through the Federal Government (i.e. Paycheck Protection Program or the Economic Injury Disaster Loans), and demonstrate they have suffered a negative financial impact.
Applications must be submitted by May 24, 2020 at 5:00PM.
Monday, May 4
Guidance for Reopening Restaurants on May 11, 2020
Today, Governor Ducey announced that restaurants may resume dine-in operations on Monday, May 11, 2020. Restaurants choosing to reopen will need to implement protocols and best practices for guarding against the spread of the Coranavirus. To assist restaurants in this process, the Arizona Restaurant Association has developed “Welcome Back to the Table: Restaurant Guidance on Reopening Dining Room Operations.” This document contains the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) as part of the Governor’s order, as well as a series of best practices.
The Arizona Restaurant Association worked with industry leaders, public health experts, restaurant operators of all sizes, and our supplier partners to develop these guidelines to assure customers that the restaurant industry is taking a leadership role in protecting our community. While not enforceable by law, these guidelines should serve restaurants as they analyze the best and safest way to welcome customers back to the table
Wednesday, April 29
May 12, 2020 is Target Date for Reopening Restaurants
Governor Ducey announced today that the State will begin opening up the economy next month, with May 12th-15th, 2020 as the target date for the limited reopening of restaurant dining rooms. In his announcement, Governor Ducey said he will continue working with the Arizona Restaurant Association (ARA) to develop guidance for restaurants to utilize during the reopening.
In response the ARA issued the following statement:
The Arizona Restaurant Association President and CEO, Steve Chucri has been working closely with Governor Ducey to create a strategy to safely reopen restaurants throughout the state.
“We appreciate the Governor’s thoughtful and inclusive approach. And though we are not ready to open today, by working together we will get there soon,” Chucri says. “The health and wellbeing of our employees, guests, and community remains our top priority and we look forward to safely welcoming back our valued guests to our dining rooms very soon!”
Meanwhile, the ARA asks that diners continue to be responsible and follow CDC rules and also do what they can to support restaurants via convenient delivery, take-out and curb-side pick-up options.
As more information is developed and released, we will continue to keep you updated.
Wednesday, April 22
Tell Congress: Restaurants Need A “Blueprint For Recovery”
- Eight million restaurant employees have already been laid off or furloughed—equating to two out of three of all restaurant jobs
- Four in ten restaurants have closed their doors, some with no hope of reopening
- Over 60 percent of restaurant owners say that existing federal relief—including the recent CARES Act—will not allow them to keep employees on payroll throughout the downturn
The impact of the restaurant industry cannot be understated—our sales exceed the agriculture, airline, railroad, ground transportation, and spectator sports industries combined. Yet, restaurants will be one of the slowest industries to bounce back from the effects of this pandemic.
The National Restaurant Association has prepared a “Blueprint for Recovery” that outlines how Congress can improve the industry’s chances for survival. Centered around a $240 billion Restaurant and Foodservice Industry Recovery Fund, this plan would provide dedicated government funding, tax credits, and much more to help restaurants prepare for current and future challenges as they recover.
Please take a few moments and contact your Representative and Senators—tell them that restaurants, employees, and consumers need Congress to act on the “Blueprint for Recovery,” so that your restaurant can survive the long road to recovery.
Senate Adds Funding to PPP
Yesterday, the U.S. Senate approved an additional COVID-19 relief bill that adds $310 billion to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Of the $310 billion, $60 billion is being set aside for community lenders. In addition to the PPP funding, the measure also includes $10 billion for grants under the Emergency Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program and another $50 billion for EIDL loans.
The House is expected to pass the measure on Thursday.
Govenor Ducey Gives More Details on Reopening Plan
Today, Governor Ducey held a press conference and outlined where Arizona is currently at in the COVID-19 crisis and put forward a series of pillars the State will use to decide how and when to begin opening up the economy. Governor Ducey made clear that the economy will be brought back online in a phased approach using public health data as a guiding principal. Additionally, the Governor hinted that as businesses are allowed to reopen, it will likely be under restrictions with additional sanitation protocols.
Tuesday, April 14
Tele-Townhall with Rep. Lesko and SBA
- Date: Wednesday, April 15, 2020
- Time: 10:00AM
- Who: Congresswoman Debbie Lesko and the SBA
- Call-in: 844-227-7553
Restaurant Operator Survey: We need your input!
As the National Restaurant Association and ARA continue to advocate on behalf of the industry, please help us quantify and further illustrate the economic impact that the coronavirus is having on the restaurant industry.
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 continue to advocate for additional relief packages.
REMINDER: Renew your Liquor License
Governor Ducey Asks for input from Restaurant and Tourism Industries on Recovery
In a letter addressed to the Restaurant and Tourism Industry, Governor Doug Ducey asked business leaders from Arizona’s hospitality and food service communities to provide their feedback on a plan for economic recovery. The letter seeks recommendations to help accelerate a business and economic recovery including incorporating public health guidance into everyday business practices, policy suggestions, regulatory reforms and other executive actions.
The Arizona Restaurant Association is currently drafting a set of recommendations, best practices and contingency plans for reopening businesses while protecting the public and our staff.
Sunday, April 12
Tele-Townhall with Congresswoman Lesko and SBA
- Date: Wednesday, April 15, 2020
- Time: 10:00AM
- Who: Congresswoman Debbie Lesko and the SBA
- Call-in: 844-227-7553
Tell Congress to Improve Relief Measures
On Thursday, the National Restaurant Association sent a letter to Congress seeking a series of changes to the CARES Act to address the Act’s shortcomings within the restaurant industry. Please assist our efforts by taking a moment to tell Congress we need these changes and we need them now.
ACTION NEEDED: The more people that ask for these changes, the louder our voice becomes. Click below to add your name!
Restaurant Operator Survey: We need your input
As the National Restaurant Association and ARA continue to advocate on behalf of the industry, please help us quantify and further illustrate the economic impact that the coronavirus is having on the restaurant industry.
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 continue to advocate for additional relief packages.
Tuesday, April 7
Governor Ducey Issues Executive Order on Packaging and Labeling Rules for Local Restaurants
- Restaurants currently licensed or permitted to serve prepared food may sell grocery items including, but not limited to, paper goods, cleaning supplies, prepared food in bulk, meat and vegetables whether or not those items are normally packaged for resale, provided the following:
- Food sold must be wholesome and unadulterated.
- Open ready-to-eat foods must be within the date marking requirements to be sold.
- Products requiring refrigeration must remain under temperature control (41-degrees or less) until ready for pick up or delivery.
- Customers should be instructed to get food home quickly and placed under refrigeration.
- Bulk household goods should be sold in their original containers.
- Raw meats should be separated from other foods, especially produce and other ready-to-eat food items to prevent cross contamination.
- Businesses shall assess their customer traffic flows to ensure a takeout or curbside business model will maintain the Governor’s social distancing requirements
Prepare Documents for Relief Programs
It is recommended that businesses start collecting the documents and records that you’ll need to prove the financial impact of the coronavirus on your business. Whether you’re applying for SBA loans or filing insurance claims, gather the documents you’ll need and keep a daily log of your businesses’ finances and operations for future reference.
Use this time to organize such documents as tax returns, sales history for the past three years, monthly profit/loss statements, insurance policies, and more.
Mental Health Resources from United Healthcare
ARA healthcare partner, United Healthcare (UHC), has recently launched several programs focused on mental health, substance abuse, and suicide prevention that are available to help employees in this difficult time.
Additionally, UHC is currently waiving cost sharing for COVID-19 related treatment until May 31, 2020 and is waiving cost sharing for in-network non-COVID-19 telehealth visits.
Monday, April 6
Governor Issues Relief for Commercial Renters
Today, Governor Ducey issued an Executive Order prohibiting commercial evictions, including lock-outs, notice to vacate, or any other attempt to inhibit the operations of a business. In a press release, Governor Ducey said “Arizona is grateful to the many landlords who are already working as good partners with small businesses during these challenging times. This order helps ensure no small business or nonprofit will face eviction due to COVID-19 and that landlords and small businesses work in partnership to make sure we get through this emergency together. There’s more work to do to ensure Arizona’s small businesses can make it through this public health emergency. As we continue to prioritize public health, we will continue to do everything in our power to support those in our small business and nonprofit communities serving us.”
Our restaurant operators thank Governor Ducey for providing this important relief.
Restaurants that have not been able to reach an agreement with their landlord and are interested in the protections provided by this order, you will need to meet these certain requirements:
- Notify your landlord in writing that you are seeking a delay in eviction, lock-out, a reduction or deferral of rent.
- Include any available supporting documentation of your inability to pay rent.
- If you receive any financial support from public programs (Paycheck Protection Program, SBA loans, grants, etc.), you must allocate a portion of the eligible assistance to any past or currently due rents.
Thursday, April 2
How to Apply for CARES Act Loans
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), signed into law March 27 by President Trump, makes low-cost loans available to you to help get you through the economic hardship caused by the pandemic. The two loan programs are the Small Business Administration’s existing Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program and the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans created by the new law.
You can apply for both programs, as long as the applications and payments you make with the funds are for different purposes! For example, even though you’re allowed to make rent or mortgage payments with PPP loan proceeds, you can reserve those for funds obtained through an EIDL.
Check with your accountant or tax adviser to see which of these programs provides greater benefits and lower risks to your business. The programs are different, with different qualification requirements and terms, so you need to carefully consider the best way to help your business through the next few months of the crisis.
Additional Webinar Resources
We know there are many questions operators still have about the many different laws and programs that have come on line in recent days. To help operators better understand which programs might be best for them, we are recommending, whenever possible, that operators participate in many of the webinar series that have become available.
In recent days, the National Restaurant Association (NRA), ARA partner law firm Ogletre Deakins, and the Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA) have all hosted webinars that address varies aspects of the FFCRA and the CARES Act.
Tomorrow, join ARA accounting partner Henry+Horne as they walk you through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) section of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act).
- Date: Friday, April 3, 2020
- Time: 9:00AM
Wednesday, April 1
DOL Issues Rules on Paid Leave Requirements
Today, the U.S. Department of Labor issued a temporary rule detailing their regulations for the Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL) and the Emergency Family and Medical Leave (EFML) provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). As part of this release, DOL also updated their Q&A document which helps to guide employers and employees on the implementation of these programs. The ARA encourages all owners and operators to review the information provided by DOL
National Restaurant Association Paid Leave Webinar
The National Restaurant Association will be hosting a webinar tomorrow, Thursday, April 2, 2020 at 12:00PM (3:00PM EST) with the law firm of Littler Mendelson to address implementation of the paid leave provisions contained in the “Families First Coronavirus Response Act.”
This webinar will include analysis and discussion of preliminary guidance recently issued by the U.S. Department of Labor and best practices for restaurants to meet regulatory compliance and avoid pitfalls. Speakers will include Michael J. Lotito and James A. Paretti, Jr., shareholders with Littler Mendelson; and Shannon Meade, Vice President of Public Policy and Legal Advocacy, National Restaurant Association.
Tuesday, March 31 – 6:15PM
New Resources on CARES Act and the Paycheck Protection Program
Today, the Department of the Treasury issued initial guidance on the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). While there are still clarifications that need to be made, the new guidance addresses several questions we had around the administration of the program and is a good first step in providing direction to business owners.
Additionally, the National Restaurant Association (NRA) published a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document on several programs within the CARES Act. The FAQ document is a great resource as businesses analyze what programs or combination of programs will be best for them and their employees.
As more information becomes available on the CARES Act and the PPP, the ARA will provide updates.
CARES Act Webinars
On Friday, the National Restaurant Association hosted a CARES Act webinar that discussed 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.
Tomorrow, the Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA) is hosting a webinar with the Arizona Bankers Association that will discuss the CARES Act and available resources at the state level.
Tuesday, March 31 – 2:40PM
Governor Ducey Delays Liquor License Renewals
Today, Governor Ducey announced the deferral of all liquor license fees by 90 days. In yesterday’s update, the ARA reported that liquor license renewals were still due. However, in response to continued industry concern, Governor Ducey issued a press release clarifying that liquor license renewals will be delayed as part of his previous Executive Order.
This deferral is effective immediately, however businesses will still need to apply for a renewal under the 90-day deferral program. We are still waiting on additional information from the Department of Liquor Licenses and Control and once we have that we will send out another update.
Monday, March 30
Governor Ducey Issues “Stay Home” Order
Today, Governor Ducey issued an Executive Order requiring individuals to limit their time away from home and limiting business activity to essential services. The order establishes the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy, Stay Connected” policy for the State and goes into effect at 5:00PM tomorrow, Tuesday, March 31, 2020 and continues through April 30, 2020.
Restaurant operations are listed as an essential service, and in his address Governor Ducey clarified that “restaurants across the state will continue to offer takeout and delivery services.” The Governor further encouraged individuals to “please patronize your local restaurants and be as generous as you can with your tips.”
What does this mean for restaurants and restaurant employees? As stated above, restaurants are listed as an essential service and can continue to operate takeout and delivery operations and restaurant employees may continue to report to work as normal. There is NOT a requirement that individuals carry papers or provide any proof that their activities fall under essential services, so there is no need for owner/operators or employees to issue letters or have proof they are traveling to or from work.
The ARA will continue to provide updates as more information becomes available.
Bank Resources: Governor Ducey Announces Additional Help
Many of you may have seen Governor Ducey’s press release announcing new protections for small businesses and families. The press release states that most banks have adopted a payment deferral program for business loans. While this is true, it is important to remember that not all banks have such programs and that not all programs are the same. If you have a current business loan, please check in with your bank and inquire about any payment deferral program they have.
Additionally, businesses should ask their bank if they are approved to process SBA loans. The SBA loan program included in the CARES Act will primarily be administrated by private banks that are a part of the program. These banks have experience in the SBA process and will be able to help businesses navigate the application process.
DOL Adds to Guidance on Paid Leave Under the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act
Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Labor published another round of guidance to its growing questions and answers list, which includes additional information on the small business hardship exemption (questions 58 and 59).
The guidance does not yet provide instructions related to the actual process for applying for the exemption. Previous guidance stated “to elect this small business exemption, you should document why your business with fewer than 50 employees meets the criteria set forth by the Department, which will be addressed in more detail in forthcoming regulations.”
All restaurant owners and operators are encouraged to read the questions and answers list which can be accessed below.
Liquor License Renewals Still Due
Last week Governor Ducey issued an Executive Order for State agencies to defer or waive license renewals. While the ARA was hopeful this would apply to the Department of Liquor Licenses and Control (DLLC) there has been no announcement from the department regarding any delay in license renewals.
Under current rules, if a license is not renewed, the licensee cannot continue to sell alcoholic beverages and wholesalers are prohibited from distributing to them. Additionally, a license that is not renewed within 60-days of the due date, will be terminated. The Director of DLLC does have the ability to reinstate a terminated license if a licensee can show good cause for the non-renewal.
The ARA is still pushing for and are hopeful that additional rule changes will be made to provide relief to licensed establishments.
CARES Act NRA Resources and ACA Webinar
On Thursday, we sent out the National Restaurant Association (NRA) summary of the CARES Act which outlines the provision of the bill. Then on Friday, the NRA hosted a CARES Act webinar that focused on specific questions from operators.
The NRA and ARA will continue to provide updates and revise the guidance document as more information becomes available.
On Wednesday, April 1, the Arizona Commerce Authority is hosting a webinar with the Arizona Bankers Association that will discuss the CARES Act and available resources at the state level.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
- curbside pickup
- carry out
The order defines a multitude of other services and business as essential including the suppliers that restaurants rely on.
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
- 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.
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.
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
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 email@example.com.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Employers can access information on current unemployment programs by visiting:
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
Employees can apply for unemployment coverage by visiting:
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 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
- Beer line cleaning
- Soft-drink distributors
- 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.
COVID – 19 Resources:
Actionable Information from the Association
- Coronavirus: What You Can Do Fact Sheet (English & Spanish)
- Handwashing 101 Poster (English & Spanish) and Youtube Video
- Handwashing Infographic
- Before You Come To Work Poster
- Cleaning vs. Sanitizing Poster (English & Spanish)
- Clean-up of Vomiting and Diarrheal Event Poster
- Food Safety Focus Blog
- March 10 Webinar: Preparing for Coronavirus: Steps for Foodservice and Restaurant Readiness
- What Experts are Saying