State & Local Government updates and ARA Advocacy

This page will continuously be update as further action is taken or new information becomes available.

ARA Guidance for Restaurants

the Arizona Restaurant Association (ARA) will continue to update our operating guidance for restaurants to include the changes provided in the Governor's Executive Orders, follow-up documents, and new industry best practices.

As circumstances continue to evolve, the ARA will update guidance accordingly.

Read our Updated Welcome Back to the Table Guidance

Stop the Spread Poster for Restaurants 

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.

View Requirements Here

City of Phoenix Restaurant Restart Resiliency Grant

The City of Phoenix has funded $14 million in three grant opportunities for small businesses. One grant in particular, the Restaurant Restart Resiliency Grant is focused directly on providing assistance to the City of Phoenix restaurant community.

The City of Phoenix is offering grants of up to $10,000 to local restaurants and mobile food service businesses to help with costs associated with reopening following closures related to the COVID-19 response. Grants may be used for buying inventory and supplies, rehiring employees, implementing safety protocols for both employees and customers, resetting floor plans to accommodate for social distancing and other legitimate opening costs. No repayment is necessary for grants.

For information on two other grant opportunities for City of Phoenix businesses, please visit AzFoundation.org/PhxGrants.

City of Mesa Launches 'Mesa CARES' Small Business Grants

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.

Learn More or Apply for the Grant

ARA Issues City and County Masks Rule Tracking Document

The Arizona Restaurant Association has compiled a quick mask wearing requirement reference document for operators. Restaurant operators are encouraged to review the requirements for their counties and cities.
The document is designed to allow operators to quickly understand which provisions of any order apply to restaurants and which ones do not. However, each operator is encouraged to review any and all orders that apply to them in their entirety. Our document links to each full order for your reference.

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.

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.

Read the Guidance

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.

Find your City's Mask Order

Guidance for Reopening Restaurants 

On May 4, 2020, 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.

Access Back to the Table Guidance

AZDHS FAQ Document for Retail Food

The Arizona Department of Health Services (AZDHS) has 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.

Read the FAQs

Extension of Premises

Below is a summary of local governments who have taken official action to expedite the extension of premises process for restaurants.  Restaurants interested in expanding their premises should first check with their landlord and obtain permission to use space not include in their lease.

City of Tempe

Mayor Mark Mitchell issued a proclamation to help restaurants easily expand their existing premises.

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.

Apply for the Permit

City of Mesa

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.”

For more information on the City of Mesa’s Extension of Premises, please contact Small Business Assistant Heather Omta at (480)-644-5600 or healther.omta@mesaaz.gov

City of Glendale

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.

City of Glendale Extension of Premises Webpage

Pima County

On Wednesday, May 13, 2020, 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.

As originally passed, the rules would have required restaurants to:

  • 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.

In response to ARA Concerns and lobbying efforts, and the mobilization of the Pima County restaurant community, The Board of Supervisors met again on May 25, 2020 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.

Read the New Rules

Restaurant Industry Relief Package

On March 17, 2020 the Arizona Restaurant Association 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

To date, Governor Ducey has issued an Executive Orders to enhance Arizona's unemployment insurance program  and authorize restaurants with a series-12 liquor license to sell alcohol for delivery and takeout.  The Legislature has appropriated $50 million that can be used for housing assistance, food bank operations, homelessness services, and economic relief for small businesses.  The ARA is working with the Governor's Office to determine the best way to utilize these funds to help restaurants and our employees.

Read the letter to Governor Ducey

Liquor License Renewal Fees Delayed

On March 31, 2020 we announced that Governor Ducey had delayed liquor license renewal fees for 90 days.  Please remember that this delay only applies to the fee and not the renew paperwork.   If your liquor license renewal date was April 1 and you did not renew, please do so now!
The Department of Liquor License and Control (DLLC) has set up an alternative renewal site for individuals wishing to renew under the fee delay.
Additionally, DLLC has announced that those businesses that have already submitted their payment may request a refund to take advantage of the 90 day delay.

Eviction Protection for Commercial Renters

On April 6, 2020 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.

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.
It is important to understand that this order only delays action and does not release any renter from financial obligations.

Restaurants May Sell Grocery Items

On April 7, 2020, Governor Ducey issued an Executive Order clarifying that restaurants may repackage and sell raw food items and other products directly to the public - similar to a grocery store.
The Executive Orders state that:
  • 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
The order also contains other provisions such as waiving the enforcement of Weights and Measures.

Governor Ducey Restricts Restaurant Operations

On Thursday, March 20 Governor Ducey announced that he was taking additional steps to curb the spread of COVID-19. One such step is ordering the restriction of restaurant activities to takeout, drive-thru and delivery options. In a statement the Governor said “These latest actions are based on the facts and on data, and come after careful consultation with public health experts from every county in Arizona, our hospitals, local elected officials, and private sector partners.”

Provisions of the new order include:

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

Read the Executive Order

Cities and Counties Restrict Restaurant Operations

Starting with the City of Flagstaff on March 15, 2020,  many cities have declared local emergencies and issued their own orders on restaurant operations.  Below is the list of all cities taking action:

Cave Creek

On March 19, 2020 Mayor Bunch ordered restaurants to restrict their operations to delivery and takeout.  They proclamation is in effect until April 7, 2020.

Read the proclamation 

Coconino County

On March 18, 2020, the Coconino Board of Superiors declared a local emergency and orders restaurants restrict operations to delivery and takeout only.   The order is in effect until April 2, 2020.

Read the proclamation

Flagstaff

On March 15, 2020, Mayor Coral Evans became the first mayor to declare a local emergency.   The Mayor's order prohibits 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.  Delivery and takeout operations are still allowed under this order.   This order is in effect until April 2, 2020.

Read the press release

Mesa

On March 19, 2020, Mayor Giles issued a proclamation ordering all restaurants and bars to close with the exception of delivery and take-out.  The  proclamation does not have termination date listed.

Read the proclamation

Phoenix

On March 18, 2020, Mayor Gallego issued a proclamation ordering all restaurants and bars be closed with the exception of delivery and take-out.  The proclamation does not have a termination date listed.

Read the proclamation

Pima County

On March 19, 2020, the Pima County Board of Supervisors ordered the closing of all restaurants and bars to dine-in customers, restricting activity to delivery and takeout only.  The order is in effect until April 1, 2020.

Read the press release 

Tempe

On March 19, 2020 Mayor Mitchell issued a proclamation restricting restaurant and bar activity to delivery and takeout only.  The proclamation does not have a termination date listed.

Read the proclamation 

Tolleson

Mayor Anna Tovar issued a proclamation on March 17, 2020 ordering restaurants to provide delivery and takeout services only.  The order is in effect until April 2, 2020.

Read the proclamation 

Tucson

On March 17, 2020, Mayor Regina Romero issued a proclamation closing dine-in options, restricting restaurants to delivery and takeout only. The order is in effect until April 1, 2020

Read the proclamation