5/22/20 Update
LEAD NEWS: Governor's Update

During the press conference today, Governor Northam and his staff covered several different issues of interest to VRLTA and our members.

It seems that the Governor is still trying to determine how the regions with a delayed reopening will take place. It appears that unless a jurisdiction requests the ability to catch up to the rest of the state in the reopening process (such as with Northern Virginia, Richmond, or Accomack), then it will follow a different reopening process and would likely be several weeks behind the rest of the Commonwealth.

Further, it appears that face coverings are likely going to be required for everyone in the public. The Governor indicates that he will make an announcement about this issue next week
Change in Days for Governor's Press Conferences & VRLTA Updates

Beginning next week, the Governor will be hosting press conferences every Tuesday and Thursday at 2:00 p.m. This is a change from the recent schedule of Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

To coincide with the Governor’s updates, VRLTA will be shifting our email updates to those days. This will allow us to provide you with a timely update related to the Governor’s actions and announcements. Watch for our next update on Tuesday, May 26.
Federal Update

The American Hotel and Lodging Association has been working with federal legislators to introduce legislation that would freeze the federal per diem rates. We anticipate that legislation will be introduced here soon, and when it is introduced we will begin to press our Virginia Congressional Delegation to support the measure.
The efforts to get pro-industry modifications to the PPP have picked up significant momentum this week. Next Wednesday, the bipartisan Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act , H.R. 6886, is scheduled to be on the House Floor. The industry played a significant role in helping draft these important modifications. Briefly, the legislation would:

  1. Allow forgiveness for expenses beyond the 8-week covered period. The 8-week timeline does not work for local businesses that are prohibited from opening their doors, or those that will only be allowed to open with restrictions. Businesses need the flexibility to spread the loan proceeds over the full course of the crisis until demand returns. Otherwise, employees will simply be furloughed at the expiration of the 8 weeks. We want employers to be able to keep their employees on the payroll, not furlough them without pay or terminate them entirely. 
  2. Eliminate restrictions limiting non-payroll expenses to 25% of loan proceeds. In order to survive, businesses must pay fixed costs. The PPP loans require that 75% of the loan go to payroll. For many businesses, payroll simply does not represent 75% of their monthly expenses and 25% does not leave enough to cover mortgage, rent, and utilities. Retaining employees is not possible if a business cannot retain their physical location.
  3. Eliminate restrictions that limit loan terms to 2 years. If the past is any indication of the future, it will take many businesses more than two years to achieve sufficient revenue to pay back the loan.
  4. Ensure full access to payroll tax deferment for businesses that take PPP loans. The purpose of PPP and the payroll tax deferment was to provide businesses with capital to weather the crisis. Receiving both should not be considered double-dipping. Businesses need access to both sources of cash flow to survive.
  5. Extend the rehiring deadline to offset the effect of enhanced Unemployment Insurance. To receive loan forgiveness under PPP, a business must rehire employees by a deadline of June 30, 2020. However, the enhanced Unemployment Insurance created through the CARES Act is higher than the median wage in 44 states. Many businesses have reported an inability to rehire employees because they are making more on unemployment than they made working. To mitigate this unintended consequence, the deadline to rehire employees under PPP should be extended to align with the expiration of enhanced Unemployment Insurance.
Local Update - ForwardRVA & VRLTA Join Forces

ForwardRVA is a coalition of the Richmond Region's business, community, and governmental leaders who are working together to create an innovative reopening and planning framework. VRLTA is a ForwardRVA partner. The website, www.forwardrva.com , will offer up-to-date information on Virginia's timing and strategy for getting back to business, reopening resources, and more. The website has good general reopening checklist here.

Also, ForwardRVA is offering a starter PPE kit to small businesses (those with less than 25 employees) - including masks, gloves, hand santizer, signage (including VRLTA's Restaurant Promise poster - see below), and safety information. It's an $80 value, and you can sign up here to get it for free!
Local Update - Prince William, Fairfax & Manassas

As we mentioned earlier this week, Prince William County voted to allow restaurants to reopen in the County sooner than the rest of Northern Virginia. We have also learned that the City of Manassas has made this same request.

Unfortunately, the Governor has not made any decisions yet related to the expedited reopening for restaurants in those two jurisdictions.

In addition, VRLTA and the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce sent a joint letter to Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay requesting that the Northern Virginia localities request from Governor Northam the ability to enter Phase Two with the rest of the Commonwealth. We would like to thank our friends at the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce for their help on this important issue.

Virginia Restaurant Promise - Poster to print!

VRLTA has worked with health departments, localities, and restaurants to develop the Virginia Restaurant Promise, a set of commitments to employees and customers. We've put together a poster in three sizes that restaurants can print out and post.

Help spread the word!
Reopening Resources - Updated!

We continue to post resources related to reopening on our website. Visit this page for the latest reopening resources, and this page for the latest news.

PPE Resources -

  • Sysco - currently in stock: masks, gloves in a variety of sizes, hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes, surface sanitizers, and bleach - contact your sales rep for the latest product availability and pricing; also has a NEW reopening guide here
  • PFG - contact your sales rep for the latest product availability
  • Safeguard Promotional Products - facemasks and shields, hand sanitizer, gloves, gowns, acrylic shields (for checkout stands) - pricing here, or visit https://www.safeguardjack.com/ or contact Anne Meagher Watson at 804.355.2679 or Anne@SafeguardJack.com 
  • KO Distilling is producing Bare Knuckle Hand Sanitizer. More information can be found here.
  • The Hand Sanitizer Guys have bulk/wholesale hand sanitizer and hand sanitizing stations. Serving the NoVa and DC metro area.

Other Resources -

Business Support Grants/Loans

We've compiled a robust listing of opportunities - grants, loans, and other support - available to businesses in localities around the state. Visit this page to learn more, and let us know if you have additional resources to share.
Upcoming Webinar
ChamberRVA is hosting another Virtual Small Business Workshop on Tuesday, May 26, from 2:00 - 3:15 p.m. VRLTA is a partner. Register here.
Support the VRLTA Restaurant & Hospitality Relief Fund

VRLTA's industry relief fund is aiding workers displaced by the recent restaurant and hospitality industry shutdowns and also helping affected businesses. Over $30,000 has been raised to date!

Donations can be made through VRLTA's website at    https://www.vrlta.org/donations/donate.asp?id=19606   .
Virginia is for Restaurant Lovers Merchandise Supports the VRLTA Relief Fund - Make a purchase to show your support today!

VRLTA has also partnered with the Virginia Tourism Corporation to create a Virginia is for Restaurant Lovers t-shirt, and other merchandise, with a portion of the proceeds going to the Fund. 

Continue to visit https://www.virginiaisforrestaurantlovers.com for updated information!