8/28/20
The Slice gives you all the news you can use. Each issue will include any COVID-19 updates, reopening information, legislative news, and other relevant items for our readers. Please let us know if you'd like to see anything in particular or have other feedback - just email marketing@vrlta.org.
What's the Latest?
Big News! VRLTA has a NEW Website!

The Virginia Restaurant, Lodging, and Travel Association is pleased to announce our all new and completely redesigned website. You can find the site at www.vrlta.org – the same as before—but the web address is just about the only thing that hasn’t changed! In addition to the new site, we've upgraded our member management system, all to serve our members better.

Members: look for an email from Tuesday, 8/25 around 4 p.m. with a subject line of "Welcome to the new VRLTA website" that has personalized instructions on how to sign in, create a new password, and update your profile (note: it may be in your junk folder). Doing this will allow you access to the Members Only information described below!

The new site has a wealth of information and resources. Here are just some of the things you can find and do:

Something else that is new? Our Members Only section, designed to give VRLTA members additional resources, information, and tools. In the Members Only section, you can: 

Visit https://vrlta.atlasams.com/portal/portallogin.aspx to access the Members Only section at any time.

We hope you’ll take a look around the new site; please let us know what you think! We are happy to help answer any questions you may have or assist with any issues. Reach out to our staff for any help you need. 
Restaurants: Take the NRA COVID-19 Restaurant Impact Survey to Help VRLTA Capture Virginia Data - Takes just 5 minutes!
 
The National Restaurant Association is collecting information on the economic impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Please be assured that all information provided is anonymous and strictly confidential.
 
If you are a restaurant operator with multiple restaurants in your organization, please consider completing a separate survey for each location. This will help provide us with data to analyze the impact on a state level. If you wish to only complete one survey, please choose your primary restaurant for this survey. 
 
Thank you for your time; email Bruce Grindy at bgrindy@restaurant.org if you have any questions.
Government Affairs
Virginia General Assembly 2020 Special Session Update
 
Following up from our update last week on the Virginia General Assembly 2020 Special Session, we would like to share with you an update on several issues that would impact the hospitality and tourism industry.

  • Mandatory Paid Quarantine Leave Bill Advances: Earlier this week, the House Labor and Commerce Committee met. During that committee meeting, HB5116 was heard and voted on by the committee. The bill would require employers provide mandatory paid quarantine leave to staff during the COVID-19 epidemic. Regrettably, the committee voted to advance the measure, and sent it over to the House Appropriations Committee for consideration.

  • VRLTA Helps Kill Bill Making Hotel Guests Tenants Not Transient Guests: A coalition of partners, led by VRLTA and including a number of hospitality and business-related organizations from around the Commonwealth, helped defeat a Senate bill (SB5089), that would have placed additional obligations and constraints on lodging establishments, including revoking the 90-day threshold for transiency at hotels, motels, extended stay facilities, or other transient accommodations. SB5089 was taken up by the Senate General Laws and Technology Committee this week; thanks to the strong advocacy work of VRLTA and our coalition, the committee voted 14-0 to pass it by indefinitely (kill the bill).

  • Other Lodging-Related Landlord/Tenant Legislation Still Pending: Two related bills have been introduced in the House that would alter the 90 day threshold for the application of landlord tenant law at lodging establishments—HB5119 and HB5120. These have been sent to the House General Laws Committee, but have yet to be placed on a meeting docket. VRLTA will continue to oppose these bills and fight for the interests of our hotel and lodging members.

  • COVID-19 Liability Lawsuit Protection: Legislation that would provide businesses with liability protection from frivolous lawsuits related to COVID-19 were considered in the House Courts of Justice Committee, and Senate Judiciary Committee. As we mentioned last week, there have been multiple bills introduced on the subject that would provide safe harbor protections from COVID-19 related lawsuits to businesses that comply with health and safety guidelines; however, this week the House Courts of Justice Committee, incorporated HB5019, HB5037, HB5040, into an amended HB5074. The Senate Judiciary Committee passed by indefinitely SB5098, and the sponsor of SB5099 pulled the bill. The Senate committee advanced and amended version of SB5067.

  • Voluntary Protection Program for Employers with 50+ Temporary Employees: Finally, there is a very concerning proposal in the House. HB5102 would require employers that hire 50 or more temporary employees during any declared public health emergency due to COVID-19 to participate in the Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) for the duration of the public health emergency. The measure is so broadly written it could seriously impact many lodging establishments and attractions that hire large numbers of seasonal help. 

As the Special Session continues, we will be sure to keep you apprised of developments with these and other bills that would impact the hospitality and tourism industry. 
Upcoming Events
Thanks for Your Nominations!
Thanks to everyone who submitted a nomination for the 2020 Ordinary Awards! We had a near-record number of submissions and our independent judges will now begin the difficult task of selecting the winners!
VA1 Tourism Summit -
November 16 in Richmond!

The 2020 VA1 Tourism Summit is still on, although in a modified format. We'll gather for a one-day event in Richmond, but it will be jam-packed with amazing speakers and content focused on travel in the time of COVID-19; "back to business" strategies; diversity, equity, and inclusion; and more relevant and timely topics.
The event will follow all guidelines for safety and distancing, and adhere to current federal, state, and locally-mandated protocols. We continue to monitor the situation and will adjust plans as necessary. Learn more at www.va1tourismsummit.org. We are working to finalize the schedule and speakers now.
Education & Training
Save the Date for VRLTA's Webinar Wednesday!

VRLTA is continuing our members-only webinar series on September 9. Joining us at 10 a.m. that morning is Jennifer L. Rose, CSP, the VOSH Cooperative Programs Director at the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry. She'll be sharing how restaurants, attractions, campgrounds, and hotels can better comply with the recently-implemented Virginia Department of Labor requirements around workplace safety.
ServSafe: Classes Are Up and Running

VRLTA's preferred ServSafe training partners are offering ServSafe training around the state - we currently are listing more than 25 classes in 10 different localities, so there is bound to be a class near you. We've added a new preferred training partner in Northern Virginia, ORS Interactive; they are offering some classes in Spanish. ORS and RVA Food Safety are also offering test proctoring. Click here to learn more and see the entire upcoming schedule. Partners' classes are filling quickly, so register today!
AHLA Safe Stay Course for Hotel Staff

To further expand the hotel industry's Safe Stay initiative, the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) is offering COVID-19 Precautions for Hotels, an online course developed in partnership with the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (AHLEI) and created to help hotels train their staffs on the enhanced safety and cleanliness guidelines.
More News You Can Use
RVA Opens Richmond Recovers Grant Program

The City of Richmond is offering grants to businesses and nonprofits in the City which have been impacted negatively by the pandemic. One million of the three million dollars allocated for the grants is earmarked for restaurants. Applications can be submitted online from 9/1/20 to 9/30/20.

For application guidelines, visit this page. The application will be available here, starting September 1.
Blacksburg Small Business Recovery Grant Program

Montgomery County and the Towns of Blacksburg and Christiansburg have established a grant fund to support small business recovery in response to COVID-19. One-time grants of up to $27,500 are being provided to offset business impacts during the pandemic. Applications can be submitted online through 9/20/20.

For application guidelines, visit this page. The application is available here.
Save on Prescription Drugs - Optum Perks Now Available!

Perhaps now more than ever, it's important to save and help employees save.

Optum Perks is a FREE prescription drug savings program, available to VRLTA members and others. The Optum Perks™ prescription drug savings program may help you save on the medications you need to live a healthier life. Just show your card or coupon to the pharmacist each time you fill a prescription.

Learn more today at perks.optum.com/hospitalityrx!