After many false starts and aborted attempts, Congress has managed—nine months after the first round of PPP funding designed to help struggling small businesses—to authorize a second round. Keep reading to see how it differs from the first. It’s not quite a holiday miracle, but it’s better than nothing…we guess.
If you’re confused about what counts as an outdoor structure, check out the state’s revised guidance (even if you’re not confused, check it out anyway, as you may unwittingly be out of compliance). El Paso County and Northglenn business owners should chime in on possible third-party delivery fee caps, and everyone interested in being part of the 5 Start Certification Program will want to start preparing so when county applications finally open, you won’t be behind the curve. Finally, here’s why you should put pen to paper about your restaurant’s COVID struggle.
The following information comes from the CRA’s December 18 and 20 newsletters. Sign up to receive the full version here. And take a gander at its Coronavirus Resource Center and on our Covid-19 Reopening Resources for general info.
Congress Reaches a Relief Deal
On December 20, Congress passed a bipartisan aid package targeted toward citizens and businesses. The relief package requires a passing vote in both chambers, and we are still waiting to see the final bill text, and some of the key elements of the proposal are subject to change. But as of today, we expect it to include:
- Another round of Paycheck Protection Program loans for businesses most impacted by COVID-19 – including restaurants.
- Restaurants specifically may be eligible for 3.5 times their monthly payroll – as opposed to other businesses who may only qualify for 2.5 times their monthly payroll.
- We expect to see a $2 million cap on an entity’s maximum loan, and a $10 million cap for restaurant groups.
- The PPP changes that make the program better for restaurants will remain, including the mandatory split of 60% total funds used toward payroll, and 40% total funds used for non-payroll permitted uses, like rent and utilities.
- Employee Retention Tax Credit is enhanced.
- $300/week unemployment benefits.
- Direct payments up to $600 sent to taxpayers making less than $75,000 per year.
We are working closely with our colleagues at the National Restaurant Association to firm up the final details of this package and will send an update as soon as we know more. We may also see positive changes to the deductibility of business meals and the Work Opportunity Tax Credit – but those details are pending and may not come to fruition.
We acknowledge that this package may be coming too late for many restaurants across the state – many of which told us several weeks ago that they could not make it one month with dining room closures. Our hearts go out to those businesses, and the entire restaurant community facing the insurmountable challenges of this year. It is our hope that this compromise will act as an essential down payment for this important industry, and it is our hope that Congress will resume these conversations and negotiate an industry specific proposal, like the Senate version of the RESTAURANTS Act in the New Year.
Clarification on 5 Star State Certification Program
We received clarification regarding table spacing requirements in the 5 Star State Certification Program. The State has said that the requirements refer to distance between parties, not physical tables. Counties in Level Red must maintain 10 feet between groups and counties in all other levels on the dial require only six feet of distancing.
Earlier this week, the State released a more comprehensive look at the 5 Star State Certification Program and offered a checklist of compliance requirements that interested counties can begin implementing to prepare for the roll out. The 5 Star Certification Program will allow increased capacities in restaurants that can prove they are complying with the additional public health guidelines required in the program.
You can read more about the 5 Star Program, additional revisions, and the county checklist here.
We heard from many of you that you are concerned about the timeliness and implementation of the 5 Star State Certification Program. We want to assure you that we continue to push for changes to make the program a viable option for local governments and restaurants alike.
Revised Guidance for Outdoor Dining Structures
The Colorado Department of Health and Environment (CDHPE) has revised their guidance to clarify that in order to meet the requirements, the temporary dining structures must have two non-adjacent walls that are entirely open.
Click here to view the full guidance from CDPHE.
Local Government Updates: More Third-Party Delivery Fee Caps Pass
Earlier this week, both the Centennial and the Englewood City Councils approved temporary caps on the fees that restaurants pay to third-party delivery companies at 15% of the purchase price of the meal. The Centennial Council’s ordinance will go into effect immediately and will remain in effect during times when restaurant capacity is required to be less than 50% by public health orders. The Englewood ordinance will go into effect on January 13, 2021 and will remain in effect through March 31, 2021.
The El Paso County Board of Commissioners and the Northglenn City Council have upcoming meetings that will impact their local restaurants.
Click here to view the agendas and attendee information for both meetings.
Assist Our Grassroots Activism: Tell Us Your COVID-19 Stories
Please submit a 200 word or less testimonial telling your business’s story through the COVID-19 pandemic. We plan to use these stories in our grassroots efforts to rally public and legislative support for restaurants. Please note: these stories will be shared with the public and with the media.
Submit your story here.
Talk to DiningOut! Email your experiences (and thoughts, opinions, and questions—anything, really) to firstname.lastname@example.org.