What restaurants and foodservice businesses need to know.
March 26, 2020

This is an update on the 2019-nCoV Coronavirus issue and related topics.  
This update to our ORA members and the Ohio restaurant, foodservice and hospitality community addresses rapidly evolving news and the following topics:    
  • Update on CARES Act - Economic Stimulus and Relief Bill
  • National Restaurant Association Webinar for NRA and ORA members
  • Ohio Restaurants Impacted Significantly by COVID-19
  • ORA Communications Update
  • Report from Gov. DeWine’s News Conference Today
  • Critical Services and Information for Restaurant Professionals including free offerings from ServSafe®
  • Important News about Our Restaurant Industry

Click on the ORA’s special Coronavirus website for resources
provided to the Ohio restaurant community:

Update on CARES Act - Economic Stimulus and Relief Bill

Congress has moved closer to enacting the next round of relief and recovery legislation to help restaurants and employees tackle the coronavirus crisis. The U.S. Senate passed by a vote of 96-0, the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act and the House is expected to vote on it Friday. President Trump said he will sign it. 
  • Here is a summary of the bill’s key provisions dealing restaurants, foodservice establishments and their employees:
  • For a detailed and complete summary of the bill, click here to view the Senate Finance Committee outline.

Highlights - CARES Act for Restaurant Business  
  • Forgivable Loan Program: The legislation appropriates $349 billion worth of forgivable loans via the SBA to businesses employing fewer than 500 workers (funds are dependent on various other factors and are limited to $10 million). Restaurants and hotels with fewer than 500 employees per location are also eligible. Download key details here.
  • Tax Credit for Retaining Payroll: Businesses can get a tax credit for keeping idle employees on the payroll. Businesses are eligible to receive half of what is spent on payroll up to $5,000 per employee, given certain criteria are met. For example, to be eligible, businesses must prove they’ve taken a 50% loss compared to the same quarter in previous years. Additionally, businesses that take advantage of the tax credit will not qualify for loans through the SBA.
  • Tax Deferment: Employers and self-employed individuals will be able to defer the 6.2% payroll tax set aside for Social Security. The accumulated tax will have to be paid over the next two years; half by December 2021 and the rest by December 2022.
  • QIP Tax Fix for Restaurants, Hotels, and Retailers: A fix to a drafting error in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is included in the Phase 3 package. Restaurants, hotels, and other retailers will be able to immediately deduct spending on property improvements from their taxes. Businesses can file amended refunds for previous years.
  • Expanded Unemployment Benefits: The legislation will provide anyone receiving any unemployment compensation (state or federal) with an extra $600 per week for up to four months -- this includes both full-time and part-time workers. The federal bump is in addition to state unemployment benefits. This was the provision that almost held up the bill Wednesday night when some GOP Senators realized the addition of the flat $600 (added by the Democrats), could mean some people will make more money by staying at home than working. Republicans wanted to add a clause that would ensure that no one made more than 100% of their salary through unemployment compensation, but they couldn't get enough votes to include it in the bill.
  • Other provisions include industry-specific financial relief, direct payments to individuals and aid for local and state governments, as well as funding to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.


National Restaurant Association Webinar for NRA and ORA members

The National Restaurant Association’s Public Affairs team will be hosting a webinar at 3pm Eastern on Friday, March 27 to discuss the CARES Act and answer frequently asked questions the ORA and other state restaurant associations are fielding. We strongly encourage our Ohio members to join. 
Ohio Restaurants Impacted Significantly by COVID-19

The National Restaurant Association completed a survey of more than 4,000 owners and operators across the U.S. The specific results for Ohio included: 
  • In Ohio, the restaurant industry lost an estimated $698 million in sales and more than 100,000 jobs during the first 22 days of March.
  • Eighty-seven percent of Ohio restaurant operators say their total dollar sales volume during the period from March 1 to March 22 was lower than it was during the same period in 2019.
  • 10% of operators reported higher sales, while 3% of operators say their sales were about the same as they were during the same period in 2019.
  • On average, restaurant operators reported a 45% decline in sales during the period from March 1 to March 22.
  • Ohio restaurant operators took a number of actions during the first three weeks of March, in response to the COVID-19 outbreak:
  • 67% of restaurant operators laid off employees. 36% anticipate doing more of this during the next 30 days.
  • 66% of operators cut employee hours.
  • 65% of operators reduced their hours of operation.
  • 63% of operators temporarily changed their business model to off-premises only.
  • 29% of operators temporarily closed their restaurant.
  • 1% of operators permanently closed their restaurant, and 9% anticipate permanently closing their restaurant within the next 30 days.
ORA Communications Update

The ORA is conducting webinars with the restaurant community to provide an update on the Coronavirus crisis and many aggressive steps we are taking to address the economic pressure on our industry. President & CEO, John Barker, and Managing Director of External Affairs & Government Relations, Tod Bowen, are hosting the webinars with guest speakers including elected officials and restaurant owners.
  • Webinars were held with our Local Restaurant Alliance groups in Cincinnati, Columbus, Cleveland, Toledo and Dayton (archived webinars on ORA website).
  • We are planning additional webinars:
  • Youngstown: Friday, March 27 at 10AM - With Congressman Tim Ryan
  • Southeast Ohio: Tuesday, March 31 at 11:00 am – With Congressman Bill Johnson
  • Register at
  • What subjects would you like us to consider covering in a future webinar? Email your ideas to Tod at
Report from Gov. DeWine’s News Conference Today
  • In Ohio there are 867 confirmed cases, 91 ICU admissions, 223 hospitalizations, and 15 deaths as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. There are confirmed cases in 60 counties across the state.
  • CALL TO ACTION: Gov. Mike DeWine will be signing HB 197 tomorrow which provides emergency COVID-19 related relief to Ohioans. This legislation is largely attributed to the feedback and guidance from our association partners across the state.
  • The Ohio General Assembly has determined that Ohio will complete the 2020 primary election on April 28, 2020. The election will be largely completed by mail, with limited in-person voting on April 28th for the disabled and those without a home mailing address. Individuals can visit to request their absentee ballot.
  • For the week ending March 21, Ohio reported 187,780 initial claims to U.S. Department of Labor. The final report may be slightly higher after the Interstate Claims data is processed. Pursuant to a Department of Labor order, Ohio will release unemployment numbers on a weekly basis as soon as the national report is released on Thursday.
  • Dr. Amy Acton, MD, MPH, reminded Ohioans of the oncoming shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks, goggles, gloves, gowns and face shields for healthcare workers and first responders. The state of Ohio is asking residents and businesses who can donate PPE, or any other essential service or resource, to email
  • An expanded COVID-19 data dashboard has been designed by the InnovateOhio Platform and is now available online. The dashboard displays the most recent preliminary data reported to the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) about COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths in Ohio by selected demographics and county of residence. In-depth data on the new dashboard can be accessed by visiting
  • Video of today's full update, including versions with foreign language closed captioning, can be viewed on the Ohio Channel's YouTube page
  • For more information on Ohio's response to COVID-19, visit or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH.

Critical Services and Information for Restaurant Professionals
The COVID-19 Pandemic crisis has created a great strain on the nation’s healthcare system, but it’s not come without economic difficulties as well. State leaders are working to ensure resources are readily available to Ohio businesses and workers to ensure we all weather this difficult time, remembering we are all in this together. The links on the state’s special website   here   will connect you with local, state and federal resources and funds for the following impacted categories:
  • Individuals and families: unemployment resources, health insurance relief, school meals and more.
  • Small businesses and non-profits: economic disaster loan program, bar and restaurant relief, daycare ratio updates and more.
  • UNEMPLOYMENT - Ohioans can apply for unemployment benefits online 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at It is also possible to file by phone at 877-644-6562 or TTY at 888- 642-8203, Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Employers with questions should email
  • SBA LOANS - Businesses and nonprofits in Ohio that are struggling because of the coronavirus crisis are now eligible for long-term, low-interest federal loans of up to $2 million each. The Economic Injury Disaster Loans, offered through the U.S. Small Business Administration, may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. How to apply:
  • SBA’s Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 can provide applications:


ServSafe® , the premier food, alcohol and workplace safety experts for 30 years are at the forefront of continuing to prepare restaurant and foodservice workers to deliver safe dining experiences. Due to the challenges presented by COVID-19, ServSafe has developed free resources aimed at keeping our employees and the dining public safe. 

  • ServSafe Food Handler: now through April 30, get the essential training every restaurant and foodservice worker needs to keep guest safe. This offer includes both the online training and assessment. 
  • ServSafe Takeout and Delivery COVID-19 Precautions:  Two new, free training videos for takeout and delivery. Available in English and Spanish. 
  • Additionally, ServSafe is offering CORONAVIRUS downloadable info & resources from the National Restaurant Association and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  • Visit for these resources. 
  • Coronavirus: What You Can Do Fact Sheet (English and Spanish)
  • Preparing for Coronavirus: Steps for Foodservice and Restaurant Readiness On-Demand Webinar
  • Handwashing video, poster and infographic
  • Cleaning and sanitizing poster
  • Effects of COVID-19 on restaurants, hospitality, and foodservice FAQs

Important News about Our Restaurant Industry

Hungry, why wait? State Rep. Mark Romanchuk, a Richland County (Mansfield) Republican, has bought digital ads to promote local restaurants that can only serve customers via delivery or carryout,  according to Monroe Trombly of the Mansfield News Journal . Romanchuk, who owns two small manufacturing firms, also announced he’s donating part of his legislative salary of approximately $60,000 to “encourage Richland County residents to patronize these local establishments."  
Ohio Begins Enforcing Stay-At-Home Order – Make Sure You’re Prepared
Please be aware that Ohio  has begun enforcing  its stay-at-home order. Clients of the law firm - Kastner Westman & Wilkins, LLC - have confirmed receiving phone calls from County Departments of Health in which they were asked to justify their status as an “essential business.”  Here is a summary of KWW’s statement:
  • We strongly urge the rest of our Ohio-based clients (as well as those from any of the other 20 states under mandatory shelter-in-place orders), to make sure you are similarly prepared in case you are contacted.
  • First, if you haven’t already, READ the order. Find the language that qualifies you as “essential business.” Be able to quickly cite it, if needed.
  • Once you have reviewed the order, DOCUMENT your review. Be able to point to an internal email or a formal memo stating that you have read the order, consulted with counsel (if you have), and have identified your business as “essential.” Cite the provision that designates you as such.
  • Lastly, HAVE A PLAN in the event that you are contacted. Make sure your receptionist or other appropriate personnel know to whom they should be directing this call, if it arrives. Have the information ready to go and have a back-up plan in place in the event that you are unavailable.

The Refectory Serves Carry Out and Strives to Serve Community Members In Need
Quickly after the shutdown of all restaurants in Ohio, The Refectory took steps to curate and transform their staple fine dining experience into a carry out only operation. The Refectory is owned by Kamal Boulos, who won the ORA Lifetime Achievement award in February 2020. 
  • The Refectory’s goal is to reopen, although there is no assurance of this. Until then, they continue to reflect who they are and do what they have always done: to serve guests, to serve their staff and to serve their community where there is a need.
  • As long as feasible, The Refectory will continue to prepare a limited carry-out menu.
  • Dinners can be picked up between 3:30 pm-5:30 pm. In addition, they will prepare meals to be given away without cost to those in need. The thousands of restaurant staff throughout the city who are without work will be their first outreach. The support of central Ohio has allowed The Refectory to serve Columbus for over 44 years, and the ongoing community support will make this current plan and the survival of the restaurant possible.
  • The Refectory is grateful for the incredible kindness, support, and generosity of the community.
  • Go to @RefectoryDining, call (614) 451-9774 or visit

Follow us and share updates with your fellow restaurateurs. 
We’re all in this together.  
For additional questions, please contact the following ORA staff:

For questions, related to the members and restaurant community:
President & CEO
Managing Director of Membership & Employer/Food Safety

Managing Director of External Affairs & Government Relations


Manager of Media & Communications
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