3/10/2021 "House Approves American Rescue Plan- The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan is expected to be signed into law this week by President Biden, after being passed by the Senate over the weekend and receiving final approval today by the House.
Securing restaurant specific relief has always been a major priority for both the Oklahoma Restaurant Association and the National Restaurant Association (NRA). We want to take this opportunity to thank our members and all those from Oklahoma's hospitality industry who responded to the many calls to action.
The ORA would also like to thank the NRA for their partnership throughout the pandemic, and for their diligent work to advocate for the entire hospitality industry.
Major inclusions of the plan are as follows:
3/9/2021 "Breaking News on COVID Vaccine- Governor Stitt and the State Health Department has announced that Phase 3 of the vaccines will begin today, Tuesday March 9th. Among other specific groups included in this phase, Phase 3 also includes Restaurant and Hospitality (hotel) employees. This is good news. The Governor's office has told us there is no specific documentation required to get a vaccine in Phase 3. They will take your word for it that you work in a restaurant or hotel. Sign up begins today at vaccinate.oklahoma.gov.
Please keep in mind that some local pharmacies, some local health departments, and other retailers like Walmart and Sam's Club have separate sign-ups for vaccines.
3/8/2021 "Senate Passes American Rescue Plan and Increases Restaurant Revitalization Fund to $28.6 billion- This weekend, the Senate passed the American Rescue Plan, including increasing the Restaurant Revitalization Fund to $28.6 billion. We have been collectively advocating for an industry-specific recovery fund since the onset of the pandemic and we will continue supporting measures that help all restaurants in need.
We look forward to prompt consideration of the American Rescue Plan in the House and getting this legislation onto the President's desk for his signature.
We will have more information as it becomes available on how restaurants can go about maximizing access to this fund.
3/5/2021 "National Restaurant Association Urges Quick Action on Relief Package- The NRA sent a letter to Congressional leaders sharing the devastation the pandemic has had on the restaurant industry. While other segments of the economy have begun to recover, the restaurant industry hasa very long road ahead. You can read the letter to Congress and the press statement.
3/1/2021 "Webinar: Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF), PPP Second Draw, and ERTC: An Update on Restaurant Relief Efforts- Join the NRA on Thursday at 12 pm to discuss various relief efforts and programs that are available to restaurant operators. As restaurants prepare for spring, the prospects for a Restaurant Revitalization Fund -featuring $25 billion in grants envisioned by the RESTAURANTS Act - are heating up. While the Association has long championed the bipartisan $120 billion RESTAURANTS Act in its entirety, the current proposal represents a key first step for restaurant relief in Congress. We’ll provide a timely update on the legislative progress and what this Fund may look like when it is operated by the Biden Administration.
Additionally, restaurants and hotels are the top industry accessing Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans under Second Draw. We will discuss why that is and what headwinds some restaurants are nonetheless experiencing with the program. Lastly, more restaurants are preparing to claim employee retention tax credits (ERTC), as coordination with past and current PPP loans is now permitted. Learn more about expanded ERTC and how it can help for both 2020 and 2021.
2/26/2021 "Raise the Wage Act of 2021" Ruled Ineligible to Be Included in the Budget Reconciliation Bill- Last evening, Senate parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough ruled that the "Raise the Wage Act of 2021" is ineligible for inclusion into the budget reconciliation bill. In yesterday's senate hearing, Senate Budget Committee Chair Bernie Sanders (I-VT) held a hearing titled"Should Taxpayers Subsidize Poverty Wages at Large Profitable Corporations?" Committee Republicans, and their witnesses, spoke in opposition to the Raise the Wage Act. One of those witnesses was Carl Sobocinski,a restaurant operator and member of the National Restaurant Association's Board of Directors. View the testimony here.
Although it has been ruled ineligible for inclusion in this bill, it will remain on the short list of Democratic priorities. In partnership with the National Restaurant Association, we will continue to apprise Senators and Congress of our concerns with the elements included in the bill that would be harmful to the restaurant industry, including the elimination of the tip credit and language that could challenge that practice of tip pooling, especially between back and front of house employees, and wage changes while the industry is attempting to recover from the economic devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Advocacy progress to that end is depicted in this article, written prior to MacDonough’s ruling. We will keep you posted as we learn more.
2/24/2021 Webinar Today: Tax Time for Restaurants – Maximize New Laws to Improve Your Bottom Line- Tax deadlines are around the corner, and for restaurant operators, filing this year could prove more challenging than most. During a webinar today, February 24, at 2 pm, the National Restaurant Association and professional tax experts will address recent developments in:
2/22/2021 Governor's Press Conference on Utility Bills- Earlier today, Governor Stitt was joined by legislative leaders, the Attorney General, and regulators from the Corporation Commission talking about efforts to mitigate high utility bills that many may receive due to the historically harsh winter weather last week. View the press conference here.
2/19/2021 Employee Retention Tax Credit- Governor Stitt issued a new order to help combat the COVID-19 virus. Read the order here. By removing references to table spacing and clear dividers between tables and booths it appears those restrictions for restaurants have been lifted in this latest executive order. If you operate in a jurisdiction that has other restrictions in place you will need to continue to conduct business under those rules still in place. View guidance for Tulsa, Norman and Stillwater.
2/17/2021 Last Chance to Register! ORA Member Webinar: COVID-19 Sticking Points- Join us for this free member webinar scheduled for Thursday, February 10-11am, plus time for Q&A.
Vaccinations, Contact Tracing, Managing Sick & Fearful Employees, and Litigation Trends are just the tip of the iceberg of issues facing hospital employers. Can I mandate employee vaccinations? How should I handle employee illness? What COVID-19 related liabilities do I have as an employer? If you want to stay ahead of the curve, join us for our session to answer these questions.
Our session is presented by Andria Ryan of Fisher Phillips LLC. Andria is a partner in the Atlanta office of Fisher & Phillips LLP. She serves as the co-chair of the firm's Hospitality Industry Practice Group and a member of the firm’s COVID-19 Task Force. She represents numerous employers throughout the United States in various phases of labor and employment law. She spends much of her time counseling employers in day-to-day employment and labor decisions and educating employers about prevention and practical solutions to workplace problems.
View the recording here.
2/12-15/2021 Governor Stitt Issues New Executive Order on COVID-19- Governor Stitt issued a new order to help combat the COVID-19 virus. Read the order here. By removing references to table spacing and clear dividers between tables and booths it appears those restrictions for restaurants have been lifted in this latest executive order. If you operate in a jurisdiction that has other restrictions in place you will need to continue to conduct business under those rules still in place.
2/10/2021 Employee Retention Tax Credit- A new law signed in late December 2020 makes restaurants eligible for an employee retention tax credit, even if they received a PPP loan. Read how it works here.
2/8/2021 Congress Introduces RESTAURANTS Act of 2021- Friday of last week, the RESTAURANTS Act was reintroduced in the House and Senate. This follows months of collective pressure from our industry for restaurant-specific funding on a federal level.
The RESTAURANTS Act of 2021 is modeled after legislation the authors introduced last Congress. Their new proposal would create a $120 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund to provide relief to food service or drinking establishments that are part of a group of up to 20 facilities. Owners could apply for grants of up to $10 million to cover eligible expenses retroactively to February 15, 2020, and ending eight months after the legislation is signed into law.
Grants could be used to support payroll, benefits, mortgage, rent, utilities, building maintenance and construction of outdoor facilities, supplies (including protective equipment and cleaning materials), food, operational expenses, paid sick leave, debt obligations to suppliers, and any other essential expenses.
The legislation also includes several new provisions to help restaurants and their employees and ensure the integrity of the program. These provisions would:
2/5/2021 Federal Update on Senate Budget Votes from the NRA- After a long night/morning, the Senate just concluded its “vote-a-rama” on the budget resolution. Rather than setting policy, vote-a-rama largely consists of symbolic messaging votes. While typically non-binding, they can shed light on Senators’ positions on key policy issues, or attempt to place them on the record in support of a position or approach, which can be highlighted subsequently if they deviate. While there are numerous votes that took place, following are some of particular interest to restaurants:
2/3/2021 Late Breaking News on Restaurant Sspecific Relief- Late Monday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer outlined the framework of the COVID stimulus bill they hope to unveil later this month. The framework includes a reference to a “dedicated grant relief program for restaurants”, and Sen. Schumer has suggested that this program will receive $25 billion in funding. The language is still being drafted, and the National Restaurant Association has been working with congressional leaders on how best to structure a program that will benefit the entire restaurant sector. More details are needed, particularly whether the plan will eliminate the tip credit and institute a $15 wage. But it is encouraging news for our 10-month efforts to secure restaurant-specific relief for our industry.
2/1/2021 Restaurant Economic Insights - January- ORA's partners at the National Restaurant Association have shared the following economic report and it is no surprise performance numbers remain very challenging for our industry.
Note: Figures reflect December data and represent change from prior month
MONTH IN REVIEW: December marked the continuation of a downward slide in restaurant business conditions. After reaching a pandemic-era peak in September, restaurant sales trended sharply lower during the final three months of the year. As of December, eating and drinking place sales stood more than $14 billion (or 22%) below pre-coronavirus levels. In September, this shortfall was less than $10 billion.
The bottom also fell out for restaurant employment in December, as plunging sales forced operators to cut 372,000 jobs. As a result, the eating and drinking place sector finished 2020 nearly 2.5 million jobs (or 20%) below its pre-coronavirus level.
BY THE NUMBERS:
1/29/2021 Quick Federal Update- On the federal front, it is increasingly looking like Democrats will try to push through a COVID-19 relief bill without Republican support. While that creates an opportunity to push for the Restaurants Act to be included (creating targeted relief for our industry), it also means they’re likely to include a minimum wage increase that would eventually get rid of the tip credit. Our urgent ask is that you remain ready to join the grassroots effort that will be launched soon to fight against costly new mandates. From what we can tell, things will move pretty quickly in the coming weeks, and as we have before, we will be actively engaged. Again, specifically on minimum wage, our response is related to timing. This is not a time to double labor costs on an industry that remains crushed by the COVID-19 crisis.
1/27/2021 ORA Annual Member & Board of Directors Meeting: February 10 at 10AM- Meet with members virtually from across the state to learn about Oklahoma's restaurant industry. The event’s key elements include the association's Annual Meeting followed by the introduction of the 2021 ORA Board of Directors and Officers. The meeting also features keynote speaker, Mike Whatley, Vice President of State and Local Affairs of the National Restaurant Association who will provide an overview of the industry from a U.S.perspective.
We encourage you to join us for this virtual event to help lead Oklahoma's restaurant industry to recovery and success in 2021. There is no cost to participate, however, registration is required.
1/25/2021 Mandatory Vaccine Policies- Restaurants should encourage all employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available. However, some restaurants are considering going further by mandating it for certain employees. The NRA Law Center created a Restaurant Guidance addressing legal questions raised by those wanting to go the extra step by mandating the COVID-19vaccine as a condition of employment.
Register for a webinar on this topic on February 11, entitled “Taking a Shot at COVID-19: What Restaurants Need to Know About Vaccinating their Workforce”. Plus, attend an additional webinar for “Consumer Class and Mass Action Risks Facing Restaurants in 2021” on January 28.
1/20/2021 NRA Urging Critical Changes to 2nd Draw of PPP That Would Help Restaurants; SBA Portal Open for Most Borrowers- SBA opened the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to small lenders on Friday, January 15 and all lenders on Tuesday, January 19. Click here for the U.S. Small Business Administration.
SBA and Treasury released official guidance on how the second round of PPP will work. The National Restaurant Association distilled it into a seven-page “PPP User Manual”:
1/18/2021 President-Elect Biden Introduces American Rescue Plan- Last week, President-Elect Biden made a speech to introduce his plan for recovery for the nation. Our partners at the National Restaurant Association have issued this statement about the plan. There are some issues in the proposal that would be detrimental to our industry. We will be working with our Congressional Delegation and the NRA to influence changes in this plan going forward. We will keep you informed as more information becomes available.
Last night, President-elect Biden made a speech announcing his framework for an American Rescue Plan (ARP), a $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill. While the plan includes key insights, it lacks the detail needed for a thorough analysis. Alarmingly, it would raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour and eliminate the tip wage (see below for additional details).
Speaker Pelosi and incoming Senate Majority Leader Schumer swiftly endorsed the proposal, encouraged Republicans to support it, and pledged to work on its passage. Biden has suggested that he would like to see it enacted by the end of the month.
Following are some of the ARA’s key elements:
Federal Minimum Wage
OSHA COVID-19 Protection Standard
Emergency Paid Leave
$15 billion in grants to small businesses
Community Credit Corporation Assistance – Restaurants
$35 billion in government funds to leverage $175 billion in additional small business lending and investment
FEMA Empowering Essential Deliveries (FEED) Act
Direct Checks to Individuals
Unemployment Insurance (UI)
Eviction and Foreclosure Moratoriums
Increases to the Child Tax credit
National Vaccination Program
The ARA can probably be best characterized as President-elect Biden’s opening salvo for the next COVID relief package. He will likely face substantial resistance from Republicans, and Democrats, to certain aspects of his plan. For instance, the minimum wage increase – which we are, of course, extremely concerned to see included – is particularly notable as it would raise costs on businesses at a time when they are already struggling to survive.
We will remain vigilant in working to ensure that the legislation is as favorable for restaurants as possible. That includes working to remove pieces that would be harmful to our industry and supporting the inclusion of pro-restaurant provisions.
Build Back Better Recovery Plan
Biden also indicated in his speech that the ARP is part one of a two-part economic recovery agenda, the second of which – his Build Back Better Recovery Plan (BBBRP) – will be discussed next month in his joint session of Congress speech. He previewed his BBBP stimulus plan by suggesting that it will focus on:
1/15/2021 SBA & PPP Update- The Small Business Administration announced the PPP will be open to small lenders today, Friday, January 15, and all lenders on Tuesday, January 19. Community financial institutions are already accepting applications. See more loan and application details.
The Small Business Administration released updated PPP application forms for (new) first draw and second draw loans.
1/14/2021 Governor Stitt Drops Curfew for Restaurants and Bars- In his latest Executive Order issued yesterday, Governor Kevin Stitt removed the 11:00 pm curfew for restaurants and bars. This action was taken in part because the Oklahoma County Judge in the on-going lawsuit extended the Temporary Restraining Order against enforcement of the curfew until the next hearing in July. Governor Stitt's new order keeps in place the requirement for tables and groups to be spaced at least six feet apart or be separated by barriers that can be cleaned and sanitized.
1/11-13/2021 New PPP Applications Are Now Available with Application Dates Starting Today- The Small Business Administration has released the applications for businesses to use to apply for the next round of PPP loans. There are different applications and different criteria for borrowers based on whether it is your first PPP loan or your second. The Paycheck Protection Program will re-open on Monday, January 11 for new borrowers and certain existing PPP borrowers. To promote access to capital, initially only community financial institutions will be able to make first draw PPP loans on January 11 and second draw PPP loans on Wednesday, January 13. The PPP will open to all participating lenders shortly thereafter.
Below you will find links to the second draw borrower application, an updated first draw borrower application and additional guidance for interested companies.
Generally speaking, 2nd draw applicants must be able to show a 25% decrease in revenue in any calendar quarter in 2020 versus the same calendar quarter in 2021.
Please contact your accountant and your bank to make sure you will be ready when you are eligible to apply. There are special rules (larger loan amounts and higher employee limits) that apply only to restaurant and hotels so be sure your advisors are aware of this.
NEW Application for Second Draw PPP
Form 2483-SD – Second Draw Borrower Application (Released 1/8/21)
Updated Application for First Draw PPP
Form 2483 – First Draw Borrower Application (Updated 1/8/21)
Guidance & Resources
Top-Line Overview of First Draw PPP Loans (Released 1/8/21)
Top-Line Overview of Second Draw PPP Loans (Released 1/8/21)
Interim Final Rule #1 – PPP as Amended by Economic Aid Act (Released 1/6/21)
Interim Final Rule #2 – PPP Second Draw Loans (Released 1/6/21)
Accessing Capital for Minority Underserved, Veteran and Women-Owned Business Concerns Guidance (Released 1/6/21)
Procedural Notice #1 – Modifications to SBA Forms 3506, 3507 and 750 CA (PPP only) (Released 1/8/21)
Procedural Notice #2 – SBA Procedural Notice on Repeal of EIDL Advance Deduction Requirement (Released 1/8/21)
Summary of new PPP rules provided by the National Restaurant Association is available here.
1/9/2021 Breaking News on 11:00 PM Curfew- Late yesterday afternoon, Oklahoma County District Judge Susan Stallings extended a temporary restraining order against Governor Kevin Stitt and the ABLE Commission following an evidentiary hearing. The restraining order is extended indefinitely until the judge makes a final decision. ABLE has told us until the judge issues a final order on the lawsuit, they will not be enforcing the 11:00 pm curfew on alcohol sales. So although the Governor's latest Executive Order imposing the curfew is still in effect for all but the 6 bars involved in the lawsuit, ABLE is not enforcing it around the state. As more information becomes available on this issue we will keep you informed. If you have questions or need more information, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
1/8/2021 Guidance for New PPP Loan Opportunities- On Wednesday night, SBA and Treasury released their official guidance on how the second round of PPP will work. Our partners at the National Restaurant Association have distilled it into a seven-page “PPP User Manual”.
The SBA this morning announced that PPP will re-open the week of January 11 for new borrowers and certain existing PPP borrowers. To promote access to capital, initially only community financial institutions will be able to make First Draw PPP Loans on Monday, January 11, and Second Draw PPP Loans on Wednesday, January 13. The PPP will open to all participating lenders shortly thereafter.
1/4/2021 Restaurant Economic Insights - December- ORA's partners at the National Restaurant Association have shared the following economic report for the month of December. It is no surprise that the performance numbers remain very challenging for our industry.
MONTH IN REVIEW: Business conditions for the restaurant industry continued to deteriorate in November. Eating and drinking place sales declined for the second consecutive month, with November representing the industry’s lowest monthly sales total since July. This means the restaurant sales recovery has not only stalled, but that the industry has likely fallen into a double-dip recession.
With a solid majority of restaurant operators remaining pessimistic about their sales prospects during the winter months, it wasn’t surprising to also see staffing reductions; 36 states lost restaurant jobs in November. The industry remains more than 2 million jobs below pre-coronavirus levels.
BY THE NUMBERS:
12/28/2020 President Signs Covid Relief Bill-In a reversal of his previous stance, President Trump signed the Covid Relief Bill late last night. We shared the analysis of the bill, passed by Congress with strong bi-partisan support, last week. Now that the President has signed the bill we thought it would be helpful to see the analysis again. You can access the details here.
12/22/2020 Webinar With Details on New Relief Bill-ORA's partners at the National Restaurant Association will be hosting a webinar tomorrow at 12:30 pm CST. The information presented in the session will be important to understanding those sections of the bill that are helpful to the restaurant industry. View recording here.
12/21/2020 Congress Finally Agrees to Stimulus Package-Although details are not yet firm since the exact language of this 20,000 page bill is still being printed, we believe the bill, to be voted on by Congress today, will have some of these elements. The ORA, working closely with our national partners at the NRA, has worked tirelessly on many of these provisions to help our industry. The many contacts ORA members had with our Congressional Delegation were instrumental in getting the message to them that our industry desperately needs additional help to survive. Here are the details as we know them now. Please keep in mind these may change once the exact language is available.
12/18/2020 Federal Update: Congress Working to Close Deal for Economic Stimulus and PPP-Speaking on the Senate floor Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said a “bipartisan, bicameral agreement appears to be close at hand.” He noted it was “highly likely” Congress would work through the weekend and said lawmakers may have to pass a short-term funding measure to buy enough time to approve the legislation. The consensus on Capitol Hill is that there will be a relief deal after months of stalemate. But Congress is now stuck in a waiting game as the top four congressional leaders and the White House try to iron out the fine print and haggle over the final details. Details of what's likely to be in the plan began to emerge on Wednesday, though nothing is final until legislative text is finalized.
Here's what we know so far about the possible deal:
While the proposal is also expected to include a $90 billion fund administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide aid to states and cities, it will not include a large pot of money for state and local governments that Democrats had demanded. It also won't include protections from lawsuits for businesses and others that were operating during the pandemic, a key GOP priority.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) wants the bill to provide $17 billion for entertainment venues, but some are worried that the money will eat into a separate fund for restaurants, Politico reported.
12/16/2020 Federal COVID-19 Relief Package Update-This week Senators and House members continue to negotiate on an omnibus measure, which could provide businesses with COVID-19 relief before the end of the year. Simultaneously, the moderate Senate and House working group refined their legislative framework, which they plan on releasing shortly. Notably, the group decided to sever their framework into two parts. The first would contain items that both sides largely agree upon, like funding for schools, health care, and an additional round of PPP for businesses with significant COVID-19 related revenue losses. The second would contain the outstanding issues that continue to divide Congress – namely, liability protections and state and local funding levels and parameters. While Senate and House Leadership are negotiating a package separate from the moderate working group, the working group’s decision to sever the framework could help galvanize Congress to pass what they can before the end of the year. Read the NRA letter that details the dire needs of our industry. We urge all of our industry to Take Action to urge our congressional delegation to pass a bill to help the economy before they leave town. View yesterday's 90-second Update from Sean Kennedy at the NRA providing context on what's on the negotiating table, and how you can help. The National Restaurant Association has been pressing for improvements to PPP for months now, and with your continued support we can bring these changes over the finish line.
12/15/2020 Restaurant Gift Card Social Media Campaign-Starting today, and through the Holidays, the ORA is launching a social media campaign to encourage followers to support their favorite restaurants by purchasing a gift card as a great Holiday gift idea direct from member restaurants. Watch for these social media posts and please like and share to help spread the joy! Click here to view the campaign.
12/14/2020 What Employers Need to Know After FDA Grants Emergency Use Authorization For COVID-19 Vaccine-As most know by now, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted emergency use authorization for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S on Friday, December 11, and the first Americans began to receive the vaccine this morning. The government is expecting an initial 2.9 million doses of the vaccine to be distributed in the coming weeks, and projections indicate that there may be enough vaccine to reach the vast majority of Americans who want to take it by early April 2021. Given the astronomical rise in the infection rate and the death rate topping 300,000, employer interest in the vaccines is extremely high. Thus, employers are asking whether they can, or should, require employees to take the vaccine. What do you need to know about this game-changing development? Click here to read more.
12/11/2020 Congress Needs to Hear From You NOW On The Changes Needed to PPP Loans-When Congress created PPP, its intent was for business expenses paid by PPP to be tax deductible. However, guidance from the IRS says that expenses paid for with a forgiven loan are now taxable. Take action now to help protect restaurants from surprise tax liabilities!
12/11/2020 Industry Sends Message to Congress-Echoing the stark reality of the latest survey results showing the devastation to our industry, the NRA sent a letter to congressional leaders urging them to take immediate action now, before Congress leaves town for the Holidays. You can read the letter that details the dire needs of our industry here. The NRA also issued a press release with this same message and need for a meaningful recovery bill for the economy. You can read the release here. We urge all of our industry to Take Action to urge our congressional delegation to pass a bill to help the economy before they leave town.
12/11/2020 Help the National Restaurant Association's Efforts to Ease Restaurant Restrictions: Respond to Their Survey-As there is little data that ties COVID-19 transmission to dining in restaurants, our industry in Oklahoma and nationwide has felt incredible frustration with the restrictions put on restaurants. As we continue to refute this claim, we ask that you respond to this survey to help the National Restaurant Association's research efforts. Data collected from this survey will be presented to lawmakers at all levels of government so that they can make informed decisions when placing restrictions on our industry.
All responses will be confidential, and high participation levels are critical to validate our fight to increase capacity and reopen indoor dining.
Respond to the survey here.
12/11/2020 Governor Stitt's Latest Executive Orders-At his press conference last week, Governor Stitt announced his new Emergency Executive Order would include additional mandates affecting the hospitality industry. The order will take effect on Monday, December 14 and includes the issues below which affect our industry. Read the Governor's new executive order here.
•Maximum 50% capacity for all public gatherings, weddings, funerals and event centers, unless the venue has an agreed plan of action with their local jurisdiction or State Health Department.
•Youth sporting events must have no more than 4 spectators per player or 50% venue capacity, whichever is the lesser of the two.
•Bars and Restaurants must continue to set tables and booths a minimum of 6' apart or use barriers that can be cleaned and sanitized. No change from the previous Executive Emergency Order
•Bars and Restaurants must close at 11:00 pm for on-premises service of food and beverages. Take out, delivery, and curb-side meals are still allowed after 11:00 pm. No change from the previous Executive Emergency Order.
•Masks must be worn by state employees in state buildings.
12/9/2020 Mental Health Support-Especially during these times of stress and unrest, mental health is a real concern. We’d like to tell you about an organization that may be able to help those in need.
Pier 34 is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) foundation focused on providing the best quality mental health to those in need and unable to afford such care. Dr. Jennifer Cox and her team are dedicated to providing a network of highly qualified and compassionately driven professionals, and connecting those professionals with would-be donors that have the same passion for mental health as we do.
Reaching out to Pier 34 for assistance is simple:
1. The prospective client applies directly to Pier 34 for an initial 6 sessions. Approval is based on factors such as household income and size.
2. Upon approval, the client chooses a provider from a carefully screened network of mental health professionals who have contracted with the foundation. These providers have been strategically chosen based on various locations around the Metro area to allow for greater ease of access to services for our clients.
3. We feel there are benefits to therapy clients who are also investing in their own care so therefore, the client agrees to a $15 copay paid to the provider at the time of service.
To contact Pier 34 or for more information go to http://www.pier34.org or call 405.562.7970.
12/7/2020 Effects of Covid-19 on the Oklahoma Restaurant Industry-Oklahoma Restaurant Business Conditions from the last survey:
• Consumer spending in Oklahoma restaurants remained well below normal levels in October. Seventy-four percent of Oklahoma restaurant operators say their total dollar sales volume in October was lower than it was in October 2019. Overall, sales were down 27% on average.
• Most restaurant operators do not expect business conditions to improve in the coming months. Eighty-six percent of Oklahoma operators expect their sales to decrease from current levels during the next 3 months. None of the operators expect their sales will increase from current levels during the next 3 months.
• Even though sales were significantly lower for most restaurants, it doesn’t mean their costs also fell proportionally. Sixty-four percent of Oklahoma operators say their restaurant’s total labor costs (as a percent of sales) are higher than they were prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. Only 23% of operators say their labor costs are lower, as a percent of sales.
• With costs rising and sales falling, the result is added damage to the bottom line. Eighty-seven percent of Oklahoma operators say their restaurant’s profit margin is lower than it was prior to the COVID-19 outbreak.
• With business conditions deteriorating, more federal government assistance is critical for the survival of many restaurants. Thirty-seven percent of Oklahoma operators say it is unlikely their restaurant will still be in business six months from now, if there are no additional relief packages from the federal government.
• Absent additional government assistance, one option is to close the restaurant until business conditions improve. Thirty-three percent of Oklahoma operators say they are considering temporarily closing their restaurant until the COVID-19 pandemic passes.
• Although many restaurants added back employees after the initial lockdowns, overall staffing levels remain well below normal. Seventy-seven percent of Oklahoma operators say their current staffing level is lower than what it would normally be in the absence of COVID-19. Forty percent of restaurants are currently more than 20% below normal staffing levels.
• With business conditions deteriorating, many restaurant operators are anticipating additional layoffs in the coming months. Fifty-three percent of Oklahoma operators expect their staffing levels to decline during the next 3 months. Only 5% of operators expect their staffing levels will rise during the next 3 months.
Source: National Restaurant Association, national survey of 6,000 restaurant operators conducted November 17 – 30, 2020.
12/4/2020 Congress Proposes $908 Billion Stimulus Plan-A bipartisan group in Congress has proposed a framework for federal COVID-19 relief.
The $908 billion stimulus proposal includes essential short-term solutions that will help restaurants keep their doors open through the winter. The proposal is not deep in substance -- it's a rough framework for relief -- but it does provide several of the tools that the National Restaurant Association proposed in their Blueprint for Restaurant Revival, including a second round of the Paycheck Protection Program and temporary liability protections for operators. We anticipate that the PPP provisions would likely be similar to what had been previously introduced, allowing for an additional round of PPP for restaurants that have experienced at least a 35 percent reduction in gross revenues between comparison quarters in 2019 and 2020.
We are continuing to push for meaningful relief for restaurants at the federal level, including short-term stopgaps to survive the holidays and more significant relief to aid recovery. We will provide updates on this proposal as it develops. Click here for more details.
12/2/2020 OKC Mayor Holt Walks Back Curfew Enforcement by Law Enforcement-Mayor David Holt said yesterday he is directing law enforcement to no longer be involved in enforcement of the 11pm curfew prohibiting sales and service of food and beverages for in-person service. It is important to note the 11pm curfew is state-wide per Governor Stitt's original emergency order, and not just in Oklahoma City. The ORA has reached out to both the ABLE Commission and the Oklahoma State Health Department to ask about their enforcement intentions on the sale of alcohol and food for on-premise consumption after the 11pm curfew. ABLE issued this statement:
Executive order 2020-20 statewide enforcement clarification
The Oklahoma ABLE Commission has confirmed that they will continue to enforce Governor Stitt’s Executive Order 2020-20 where applicable to their jurisdiction, specifically in this instance the sale of alcoholic beverages for on-premise consumption after 11pm.
You can read the entire Governor's Emergency Order here. (The highlighted section includes important information related to our industry)
The ORA has reached out to the Oklahoma State Health Department for inquiry about enforcement of the 11pm curfew for on-premise dining but have not heard back from them by time of publication. As soon as we have additional information, we will let you know.
12/1/2020 OKC Mask Mandate Extended-The Oklahoma City Council recently voted 6-3 to extend the current ordinance mandating that masks be worn in public places until Jan. 22, 2021. Additionally, the council voted to grant the emergency measure that allows the mandate to become effective immediately. Oklahoma County is currently averaging about 700 new COVID-19 cases per day.
11/30/2020 Norman Mayor Issues New Restrictions on Restaurants and Bars-Norman Mayor Breea Clark today issued new restrictions on restaurants and bars, and other facilities, to try to halt the spread of Covid-19. Although health departments have continued to be unable to present accurate data that shows restaurants are spreading the virus more than other activities, our industry continues to be a convenient scapegoat for further restrictions. You can read more about these new restrictions here.
11/23/2020 PPP Loan Forgiveness Update - Due to the evolving PPP loan forgiveness process, many restaurants and their tax advisers were planning to wait on applying for loan forgiveness until 2021. This way, a restaurant could 1) deduct their standard tax expenses for tax year 2020, 2) apply for PPP loan forgiveness in 2021 to evaluate how much is forgiven/deductible, and then 3) address any future tax liability on PPP forgiveness and deductions in late 2021/2022 filings. Most importantly, this would retain working capital during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
Treasury/IRS ended this possibility with guidance on November 18, saying that “if a business reasonably believes that a PPP loan will be forgiven in the future, expenses related to the loan are not deductible, "whether the business has filed for forgiveness or not."
A restaurant that received a PPP loan and paid otherwise deductible expenses (payroll, rent or mortgage, utilities) during the covered period may not deduct those expenses for tax year 2020 even if the restaurant has not submitted an application for loan forgiveness by the end of tax year 2020. If the restaurant “reasonably expects to receive forgiveness,” it automatically loses these tax deductions, hypothetically over a 24-week period, due to the 10-week loan.
11/20/20 We All Need To Do Our Part-Now that Governor Stitt has issued a state-wide curfew of 11:00 pm for restaurants and bars, our industry needs to step up and do everything we can to comply with this Emergency Order. Every day we are reminded of the increased numbers of Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations. And yes, restaurants and bars have become a convenient scapegoat for the blame on rising numbers, even when the science and data do not point to our industry being the cause of the spread of this disease. But if we all do our part to comply with this Emergency Order from the Governor, the quicker we can get on the other side and return to normal operations. As painful as an 11:00 pm curfew will be for the next 30 days, if full compliance from our industry is achieved we won't run the risk of being shut down completely for inside dining. None of us want that outcome for our industry. Other states and local jurisdictions around the country, including some who touch our borders, have completely been shut down to inside dining. We do not want that to happen in Oklahoma. So please, let's all do our part. Wear a mask, have your staff wear a mask, ask your guests to wear a mask at all times inside your restaurant except when eating and drinking while seated, properly distance your tables or put up barriers as is allowed under the order. If you choose not to comply you will be putting our industry at risk of further and more onerous restrictions and none of us want that to happen. Thank you for doing your part so we can get on the other side of this mess sooner.
11/20/20 OKC Mayor Holt Issues New Proclamation- OKC Mayor David Holt held a press conference yesterday and urged all people in Oklahoma City to practice caution for the next 10 days to attempt to get the numbers down on infections and hospitalizations. He also urged patrons to support restaurants with carry-out and delivery, rather than gathering in person inside a restaurant. That is only a suggestion and not a restriction. We have previously shared with the Mayor that restaurants and bars are being unfairly singled out as a spreader of the virus when data does not support that premise. Although the Mayor discouraged dining inside for the next 10 days, we have shared that restaurants, with all the safety protocols they have in place, are a safer venue than at home gatherings during the upcoming holidays. Mayor Holt issued a new proclamation that adopted the provisions of Governor Stitt's Emergency Order from earlier in the week. You can read Mayor Holt's proclamation here. The mandatory mask mandate previously issued by OKC remains in place.
11/20/20 Oklahoma County Commissioners Create New Business Aid Program-Oklahoma County Commissioners allocated $15 Million in CARES Act funding for a new program to aid small businesses and nonprofits in Oklahoma County affected by COVID-19. Applications will open on November 23 and remain open until December 7 OR until funds are depleted. The Oklahoma County Small Business and Nonprofit Grants will provide up to $100,000 for either lost revenue due to COVID-19 or reimbursement of payroll, rent, utility and other operational expenses. To learn more or apply visit www.OKCountyGrants.org. View the press release on this new program here.
11/20/20 Restaurants Have Become the Convenient "Scapegoat" for COVID-19 -The NRA president and CEO Tom Bené sent a letter on Tuesday to the National Governors Association, defending the safety and role of restaurants during the pandemic, particularly noting the lack of scientific evidence linking restaurants to the increase in cases across the nation. The letter also urges governors to reconsider or rethink COVID-19 restrictions that would adversely affect restaurants, like completely shutting down indoor dining. You can read the letter here.
11/18/20Understanding the 2020 Elections and What Lies Ahead for Restaurants-Get the latest analysis from the NRA's Government Affairs team on the recent elections, and what the coming lame duck and 2021-2022 Congressional Sessions mean for restaurants. There will also be a preview of what is to come as President-elect Biden assumes office.
Here are the sessions scheduled for Monday November 23rd:
*Upon registering, these webinars are listed in Eastern Standard Time but are reflected in Central Standard Time above.
11/18/20New Coronavirus Impact Survey-Please complete this new Coronavirus restaurant impact survey. The ORA is partnering with the NRA to gather critical data that will be very valuable to our ongoing advocacy and communications efforts during this crisis. We very much appreciate you taking the time to complete it. Please note this survey will stay open until COB Monday, Nov. 30th.
11/17/20Governor Issues Emergency Order Affecting Restaurants-Yesterday, Governor Stitt issued an Emergency Order that directly impacts our industry's operations for the next 30 days. You can read the relevant parts of the Governor's order by clicking here.
11/16/20Stay Tuned - New Mandates for Restaurants as Service Continues!-This afternoon, Governor Kevin Stitt held a press conference during which he announced new mandates, in the form of an Executive Order, due to the ever-increasing number of COVID-19 cases. The Order effective beginning Thursday, November 19 includes the following mandates:
ORA President & CEO Jim Hopper also spoke at the press conference confirming the commitment of the Oklahoma Restaurant Association and Oklahoma restaurants to support today‘s action, and stated that Oklahoma restaurants are committed to doing their part to uphold the mandates and operate safely. Hopper also asked all restaurant workers across Oklahoma to wear a mask while on and off shift, and emphasized the industry‘s request of the public to continue supporting their local restaurants whether it is through dining in safely, or by drive-thru, curbside or delivery.
11/11/20Stay Tuned - 4 Great New Member Discount Programs Coming Soon!- Later this year, the ORA will launch four new member discount programs. The variety of services is available to dual ORA/NRA members and is designed to increase your businesses' success through specially designed services and discounts available only through ORA and NRA Marketplace. Very soon you'll have access to the following programs
Paper, PPE, and Business Supplies:
Office Depot - Discounts that range from 1%-80% on over 96,000 items that available through a special online ORA portal.
11/9/20Legal Analysis of What to Expect in a President Biden Administration for Employers and Employees-It appears to be official: unless the election results can be overturned in several states, Joe Biden will soon be our nation‘s 46th president. Now the work begins to forecast what the next four years will bring. Here are several predictions in 11 key areas.
11/9/20The Future of Restaurants and Restaurant Marketing-Adaptability is truly a great human phenomenon. Perhaps that's why we emerge from the worst of times with new knowledge and ways to thrive. This is precisely what we see happening across industries, particularly in the food and beverage industry. Restaurant brands are evaluating their post-COVID-19 strategies. They must devise ways to drive as much revenue as they can and satisfy new consumer expectations at the same time. What are some strategizes to help? Read more.
11/4/20Election Update - What We Know So Far-Our partners at the NRA shared this election analysis as of mid-day Wednesday. There is still much to be decided but this is what we know so far.
11/4/20PPP Forgiveness FactSheet-A PPP factsheet for borrowers that provides a high-level overview of what they have to do as part of the PPP forgiveness process has been developed for SBA field offices and SBA resource partners. The basic premise is that the borrowers in all cases should work with their PPP lenders on forgiveness.
11/2/20CARES ACT Reminders-The passing of the CARES Act was so long ago that you may have forgotten some of the key pieces with everything else going on. Here are three reminders that could be helpful to you.
If you have questions about any of this or think you may be able to benefit, please talk to your tax consultants. The CARES Act was a comprehensive and dense bill, and we want to make sure you are able to fully benefit from every provision.
10/28/20ORA Expo Postponed Until Aug 18-19, 2021-After much deliberation, the ORA's Board of Directors has made the difficult decided to postpone the 2020 ORA Expo until next year, August 18-19, 2021.
Everyone at the ORA understands and appreciates the time, effort and resources that exhibitors have put into preparing for the Expo this year. Similarly, the ORA staff has been immersed in preparations, and we were looking forward to bringing hospitality together once again to provide connections for new products, education and professional engagement. Unfortunately, this year due to the continued spread of COVID-19, and the importance of health and well-being of those attending, we will not be able to deliver the ORA Expo experience you deserve.
As you already know, we are an incredibly resilient industry. We share your disappointment, but we are also energized by the possibility of new opportunities to gather again in 2021.
10/26/20Serving Up Hope-CORE, Children of Restaurant Employees, is excited to announce the Serving Up Hope Campaign during National Food and Beverage Employee Appreciation Week, this November 9-15. This campaign will bring together the industry and the millions of guests it serves, to take a moment to show our gratitude and share some hope with the essential workers who make America‘s food and beverage operations the cornerstone of the communities they serve. Click here for more info.
10/26/20Free Training for Restaurants on Covid Related Issues-In cooperation with our partners at the NRA, free training is available to you to address numerous issues for our industry as we navigate these challenges. We hope you will take advantage of this opportunity.
ServSafe is providing four free courses on COVID-related restaurant issues, including COVID-19 Precautions and Conflict De-escalation, Safe Operating Guidance, ServSafe Delivery: COVID-19 Precautions, and ServSafe Takeout: COVID-19 Precautions. These courses provide valuable resources for the entire industry. We are beginning to see an increase in the number of COVID cases across the country, which will impact us both personally and professionally. Please stay safe in the days and weeks ahead.
10/22/202020 CDC‘s Latest COVID-19 Guidance Complicates Contact Tracing Procedures-New COVID-19 contact tracing procedures released by the federal government have expanded the category of individuals who are deemed to be in close contact with each other – and will complicate the already difficult task faced by employers when trying to maintain a safe workplace environment. The updated guidance now indicates that workers should be considered to be at risk of contracting the virus if they were within six feet of an infected individual for a total of 15 minutes even if the interactions that lead to a cumulative total of 15 minutes were brief and spread out over that time. What should employers do? Learn more.
10/21/202020 Stillwater City Council Approves New COVID-19 Business Relief Grant Opportunity-Stillwater City Council, working with the Stillwater Chamber of Commerce, created Stillwater Small Business Assistance Program. This program, which council approved on Monday, Oct. 19, will assist businesses who need help reopening or have other financial needs. Applications are available now. We know our neighbors need help, Mayor Will Joyce said, so the City of Stillwater is committed to doing everything we can to support and preserve our local businesses,. Click here to read more.
10/20/202020 The Oklahoma City Council Extends Help to Minority Owned Small Businesses-Next week, the Alliance for Economic Development fo Oklahoma City will launch the Minority Owned Business Recovery Program to provide grants up to $25,000 to help small businesses with payroll, rent, retrofitting the business, purchasing sanitizing equipment or other operational needs arising fromCOVID-19. The program also provides technical assistance to help the business with accounting, bookkeeping, marketing, web development and more.
The goals of the program are to provide short-term relief to businesses to help them maintain payroll and sustain their operations. To qualify, the business must have a physical headquarters within the city of Oklahoma City, be a for-profit business, have 25 or fewer full-time equivalent employees and demonstrate lost revenue or increased operational expenses caused by COVID-19. At least 51% of the business ownership must be one or more of these minority groups: American Indian, Alaska Native, Asian, Black, African American, Hispanic, Latino, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander. The program will launch the week of Oct. 26 at www.okcsmallbizhelp.com with $2.75 million from the city‘s CARES Act funding. Click here to read more.
10/19/202020 Employee Nominations - Deadline Oct. 23rd-Despite the fact the Oklahoma Restaurant Association had to cancel the Hirst Hospitality Awards Gala for 2020, we feel it is still important to recognize the outstanding contributions of restaurant employees, especially during this difficult time.
Therefore, we invite each ORA member restaurant to submit ONE outstanding employee (one per restaurant property) to be recognized in our upcoming Hirst "Best of the Best" celebration video and prize drawing to be held live in November. Employee nominations must be received no later than Friday, October 23, 2020, to be honored.
The video will incorporate comments from a few in the industry as well as the name and business of each employee nominated.
Please help us keep this tradition of recognizing restaurant employees until we can return to our in-person gala.
10/19/20Update on Federal Stimulus Talks-As has been reported this weekend and today, Speaker Pelosi has said there needs to be an agreement between all the negotiating parties by tomorrow for there to be any chance at a new stimulus package being approved prior to election day which is two weeks from tomorrow. Talks have continued between the Speaker and Secretary Mnuchin but the real uncertainty remains with the Senate Republicans and how much, if any, they are willing to approve in additional economic stimulus dollars. This situation is so fluid right now, and tied up so much in partisan politics, it changes daily. ORA, along with our national partners at the NRA, will continue to keep you updated.
10/16/20Senate Leader McConnell to Bring Skinny Stimulus Bill to Vote on Monday-In the on-going saga of negotiations concerning another round of stimulus money for the economy, and particularly for our industry, Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell announced that on Monday, he will bring up for a vote a smaller $500 Billion package of relief, including another round of PPP loan funding for small businesses. This effort by the Senate Leader will bring to a head the negotiations between Speaker Pelosi and the Trump Administration and their top negotiator Secretary Mnuchin. So far, the House is sticking to their proposal for a $2.2 trillion package of relief and the Administration is sticking to their $1.8 trillion package. Indications are that the Speaker and Secretary Mnuchin are continuing to talk but so far no deal has been reached, at least not at this point. There is apparently still much division among Senate Republicans over the size of any stimulus package and some Senators have been reported as being opposed to any further stimulus. These negotiations and varying positions on what, if anything, will be passed are very fluid right now. All of this is framed by the elections that are just a little over two weeks away and the corresponding political pressure to do something for the economy. There is a lot to digest and a lot of maneuvering going on. As more information develops, the ORA will bring you the latest information available.
10/15/20Webinar with Mayors: What Will Our Cities Be Like Without Restaurants?-The NRA is partnering with the US Conference of Mayors to host a webinar, What Will Your City Be Like Without Restaurants? Discussion will center around the challenges that the restaurant industry is facing and what mayors can do to help restaurants survive the pandemic and the years ahead. The webinar will take place next Monday (October 19th) at 2pm. Louisville Mayor Fischer, Houston Mayor Turner, Grand Rapids Mayor Bliss and former Gresham Mayor Bemis (a restaurant owner) are all confirmed to speak on the panel.
The NRA is asking members to invite their local mayors to participate with them in the webinar at your restaurant, of course in a socially distanced manner. If the opportunity exists, a photo of you with your local mayor would be good publicity for this event and you can share them with us. Click here for more info and to register!
10/13/20Register for the NRA Legal Summit-Beginning tomorrow, Oct. 14-16, ORA members are invited to connect online with senior representatives to learn from experts at some of our nation's top law firms as we discuss important issues facing the restaurant industry today including:
Although this is normally a paid event, the importance of this information is so critical during this difficult time it is being offered free of charge. We encourage you to register and participate in the sessions. View the full agenda and register here.
10/12/20Register for the ORA Expo December 2-3, 2020-With the reopening of Oklahoma, restaurants are back in business and operators are searching for the latest and greatest to help build their success. The ORA Expo at OK State Fair Park in Oklahoma City is considered the best opportunity of the year for you to connect with other professionals, as well as food manufacturers and various suppliers who are eager to show off their best in hospitality products and services.
It is also known as Oklahoma's largest industry trade show and the most important of the year for foodservice and hospitality industry professionals, as it will offer exciting educational sessions, demonstrations, and networking! Easy access, convenient parking, and tons of ORA hospitality make this an event you don't want to miss! The ORA Expo is presented in partnership with the Oklahoma Hotel & Lodging Association and the Oklahoma Travel Industry Association.
For the health and safety of attendees and exhibitors, the ORA Expo Promise has been carefully designed and will be enforced to provide numerous health and safety measures for both attendees and exhibitors. Click here to view the Expo Promise.
Click these links or more information:
Attend as a Buyer
Attend as an Exhibitor
Become an Expo Partner
10/9/20Hirst Awards Employee Nominations-Despite the fact the Oklahoma Restaurant Association had to cancel the Hirst Hospitality Awards Gala for 2020, we feel it is important to recognize the outstanding contributions of employees even during this difficult time.
Therefore, we invite each ORA member restaurant to submit ONE outstanding employee (one per restaurant property) to be recognized in our upcoming Hirst "Best of the Best" celebration campaign to be released in November. Employee nominations must be received no later than Wednesday, October 21, 2020 to be honored.
Additionally, all nominees will have the opportunity to have their name drawn for a cash prize. Please submit your employee information on this form.
10/9/20CDC Issues Update on How COVID-19 Spreads-Earlier this week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued updated guidance to its How COVID-19 Spreads website, which includes information about the potential for airborne spread of the virus. See here.
10/9/20New Information On PPP Loan Forgiveness Under $50,000-Restaurants who received Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans under $50,000 can now access a new forgiveness application designed to simplify the forgiveness and loan review process, as announced by the Small Business Administration (SBA) yesterday. This streamlined PPP forgiveness form does not require businesses to show the calculations used to determine their loan forgiveness amount. However, SBA may request information and documents to review those calculations as part of its loan review process.
Important to note – this is not automatic PPP loan forgiveness, as borrowers are still required to submit documentation to lenders on payroll costs, rent/lease payments, and utilities. Additionally, there is a restriction for any otherwise eligible applicants if they have affiliated businesses receiving PPP loans totaling $2 million or greater – we are following up with SBA to ensure the Affiliation Rules are waived for restaurants and hotels as outlined in earlier PPP guidance (p. 2).
Three attachments include:
1. The new PPP loan forgiveness form.
2. Instructions for the new form.
3. The SBA rules on the new forgiveness procedures for PPP loans under $50,000.
For background, the SBA reports that there are approximately 3.57 million outstanding PPP loans of $50,000 or less, totaling approximately $62 billion of the $525 billion in PPP loans. The NRA will provide updates as we collect more information, thank you for your partnership!
10/2/20Hope Fading for an Economic Stimulus Deal-Today we received the following information about the latest "negotiations" in Congress toward an economic stimulus package that would help our industry.
Current State of Play
Yesterday evening, Speaker Pelosi brought to the floor her skinny form of the HEROES Act. The original measure was $3.4T the reduced-scale bill was $2.2T. The measure contained both the Blumenauer version of the RESTAURANTS Act, as well as a second round of PPP, enhanced ERTC, and confirmation that business expenses paid with PPP loans would be tax deductible. The measure passed 214-207, but is opposed by the White House and has no hopes of movement in the Senate.
The White House prepared a counteroffer of $1.6T. Many Senate Republicans feel the offer is too high, and state they have a ceiling of $1 trillion. Democrats appear to have a floor of $2 trillion.
Both Sides Want a Deal
Clearly, the optics of returning home empty-handed is not good for Rs or Ds. UI benefits have expired amidst an increase in unemployment filings, and airlines have begun to lay off tens of thousands of workers now that their federal funding program has expired. There is tremendous anxiety among vulnerable Republicans and Democrats that they have nothing to show their constituents. The White House views a strong economy as central to the President's re-election and definitely wants to see new stimulus dollars in the system.
But Policy Disputes Continue to Divide Washington
Even putting aside the topline spending level of the stimulus bill, there are a host of policy issues that remain redlines for Rs and Ds. Dems are looking for child tax credits and money for state/local governments GOP is looking for COVID-19 liability protections for business. Both parties have drawn pretty deep lines in the sand. Anxiety is not anywhere close to a point where either party is going to concede their bottom line negotiating position.
Piecemeal Plans Still Unacceptable to Dems
The NRA position has been that a big-ticket agreement seemed unlikely to be reached, thus we have urged a narrow bill focusing on a second-round of PPP adopted before Congress leaves for the elections. Speaker Pelosi has held firm that there are an array of national priorities, and they all need to be addressed comprehensively. House Republicans tried unsuccessfully to use procedural tools to force a vote on a standalone bill authorizing a second round of PPP.
No One Will Say It‘s Over, But It Sure Looks Over
We suspect that no one will publicly say that a deal is dead through the elections. But the House is now slated to send their members back home until the elections, with no expectation they‘ll be called back. The Senate is likely to stay in session for much of October for activities related to judicial nominations and the Supreme Court vacancy. As of this morning, the COVID-19 diagnosis of President Trump seems unlikely to affect this process. Never say never, but Democrats will likely want to wait for expected gains in Congress and move a bill next year.
Uncertain Fate for RESTAURANTS Act
There is clear momentum with House Democrats on the Blumenauer RESTAURANTS Act, with less passion from the White House and congressional Republicans. We have spent a significant amount of time educating people on the many restaurant business models that are suffering but excluded under the House language. We will continue to improve any legislative proposal affecting the industry to expand its scope.
10/1/20Outdoor Dining During Cold Weather-Expanded outdoor dining is an essential lifeline for many restaurants during the ongoing pandemic. Outdoor dining represents about 44% of revenue for full service establishments currently.
But the onset of cold weather will require operators to make substantial investments in equipment or risk shutting down outdoor dining. We are calling on local lawmakers to help restaurant operators in prolonging the outdoor dining season this fall and winter. Tell us YOUR story of how vital outdoor dining is to your restaurant. Are you worried about the impact cold weather will have on your restaurant‘s ability to survive? Record here.
9/30/20Extended COVID-19 Furloughs, Layoffs and Other Concerns-Join us next week on October 6th at 2pm for a webinar regarding insights on the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act and various state offshoots.Angelo Amador of the Restaurant Law Center will host with guests from RLC Law Firm Partners Jackson Lewis and Sheppard Mullin. Register here!
9/29/20Mental Health in Our Industry-Last evening, House Speaker Pelosi introduced the latest version of an economic stimulus package to help the economy and restaurants specifically. Some of the high-level details are:
Substance of Revised HEROES Act
Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC)
You can read a more extensive analysis of the bill here. Our partners at the National Restaurant Association issued a press statement about the new bill that you can read here.
9/28/20Mental Health in Our Industry-With nearly 1 in 5 people living with a mental health issue, this is a problem that cannot be ignored. We want to help erase the stigma that comes with mental health problems.
ORA has gathered national and state resources for those suffering from mental illness, addiction or grief and those wishing to offer support and learn more. Education is the key to fight it. The more you know, the more you can be of service to yourself and to others who are going through it. Click here to learn more.
9/22/20Help Our Federal Advocacy Efforts! Tell Congress to Act Now to Help the Restaurant Industry-According to the latest NRA industry data, restaurants report declining business conditions for August by an over two to one margin. Over 100,000 restaurants have already closed, and 40% of operators said they would be forced out of business in the next six months if there is no additional federal aid.
Congress is struggling to pass a recovery bill before leaving Washington for the elections, and it's possible our legislators won't consider an alternative until January. We need Congress to take short-term action now – targeting the proposals that already have extensive bipartisan support. The restaurant industry needs help now more than ever.
Contact your lawmakers. Share this link via email and on social media so your friends and colleagues can amplify your message.
9/21/20 Oklahoma Restaurant Days-Governor J. Kevin Stitt proclaims Oct. 1-3 as official Oklahoma Restaurant Days, to support and celebrate Oklahoma restaurants. In celebration, Eat Drink LOKal is a campaign developed by the ORA to encourage the general public to dine inside, dine outside or enjoy carry-out meals from their favorite restaurants across the state during October 1-3. You can view more information about Oklahoma Restaurant Days here.
Click here to view Governor J. Kevin Stitt's proclamation.
Attached is a media kit for you to view. We ask that you share these graphics, statistics and any of the other attached content on your business pages as well as your own personal profiles during October 1-3 to celebrate "Oklahoma Restaurant Days". We must make it very clear that restaurants are still a safe place to get your food and that we in this together and here to support our community. Please reach out to us if you have any questions.
9/17/20National Restaurant Sales Rose in August-While the sales gains in July (4.1%) and August (4.7%), they were well below the robust growth registered in May (31.3%) and June (27.2%). As a result, total sales in August were still nearly $11 billion lower than the pre-coronavirus levels posted in January and February. By a greater than two to one margin, operators are more likely to say business conditions worsened in August rather than improved. That‘s according to a survey of 3,500 restaurant operators conducted by the NRA. Read the full analysis here.
9/16/20Update on Federal Relief Efforts-Speaker Pelosi has indicated that she would keep the House in session in Washington, D.C. until they agree on another coronavirus relief bill. Even with this news, the House and Senate remain more than $1Trillion apart and until that changes, it is difficult to see a bill being carried over the line. The ORA will certainly take this as truth and ramp up our push to Congress. We are committed to fighting until the end because that is what you deserve.
The announcement from Speaker Pelosi provides us with an opportunity to remind everyone where the NRA and ORA are focusing our efforts. One of our responsibilities is to assess where Congress sits, the role of the administration and what we think can be accomplished on behalf of restaurants.
We have watched closely how Congress has responded to our lobby efforts:
Four bills—the Heroes Act, the Heals Act, the bill passed by Leader McConnell and the Senate Republicans, and the bill introduced by the bipartisan Problem Solver Caucus yesterday—have all included another round of PPP, but none of them contained the Restaurants Act.
We need to secure bipartisan support to get additional relief over the line. Pushing to get another round of PPP is where a majority of our efforts should be spent. We have already seen, four times, bipartisan support for another round of PPP. We know the political divisions in Congress now makes this a difficult effort.
This does not mean we will stop pushing the Restaurants Act. We just have a narrowing window, an extremely partisan Congress and a lot of urgency to get something done. We will continue to watch the moving parts closely to ensure we put our effort on those places where we can drive the outcome we need. Clearly, the landscape is fluid and tomorrow the pieces may shift slightly, but that is where we sit today.
9/16/202020 Tax Planning: Qualified Improvement Property-Many restaurateurs have reconfigured restaurant space, kitchens, lobbies and entryways to conform with COVID-19 social distancing and safety guidelines. The CARES Act includes a retroactive correction to the legal language of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). The correction allows business owners to depreciate this qualified improvement property (QIP) that has been placed in service after the TCJA became law, at a much quicker pace.
Specifically, the correction allows 100% first-year bonus depreciation for QIP that is placed in service in 2018 through 2022. That is because QIP placed in service after 2017 is now eligible for a 15-year cost recovery period instead of a 39-year cost recovery period. QIP includes the installation or replacement of drywall, ceilings, interior doors, fire protection, mechanical electrical and plumbing, and other items.
However, QIP does not include any expenditures attributable to:
The enlargement of the building,
Any elevator or escalator, or
The building's internal structural framework.
Some businesses that used a 39-year recovery period for QIP may instead opt to depreciate QIP over 15 years rather than claiming 100% first-year bonus depreciation. Your tax advisor can advise you about the pros and cons of claiming bonus depreciation vs. depreciating QIP over 15 years.
9/15/20NRA Survey Results Released on State of the Industry-The sobering statistics are in from the latest national survey of the state of the restaurant industry. It is not a pleasant picture of what is happening within our industry. The loss of restaurants that have closed, many of them permanently, the loss of revenue and jobs is simply staggering. You can read the latest survey results here.
The survey results are further evidence of the need for Congress to put aside their partisan differences and enact immediate relief for the restaurant industry and for the economy at large. It is critical for Congress to act prior to adjourning for the November elections. Our partners at the NRA sent a letter to Congressional Leaders asking for help on those issues on which there is general agreement. You can read that letter here.
As part of the national survey in which many of you participated, we have been able to see the effects of this pandemic in Oklahoma. In many ways, the unique Oklahoma statistics mirror what is happening nationally. You can read the Oklahoma-specific impact here.
9/11/20NRA Responds to Flawed CDC Study Naming Restaurants for Spread of Covid-19-The study released yesterday by the CDC implies adults who tested positive for Covid-19 were approximately twice as likely to have reported dining at a restaurant in the 14 days before becoming ill than those who tested negative. We believe the research methodology to be flawed and our statement refutes the study and the questionable methodology. We highlight how the research presented should be considered, considering some inherent weaknesses in the research and point to the Association‘s opening and operating guidance, which is in line with the CDC.
Earlier this summer, the ORA, in cooperation with the Health Departments in Tulsa and Oklahoma City, as well as the State Department of Health, created Our Pledge to Safety and Well-Being which is an initiative to instill confidence in customers and employees that restaurants have proper protocols in place to keep dining out a safe and enjoyable experience. Following these guidelines will help offset the flawed and damaging information released by the CDC yesterday.
9/10/20Tell Your Restaurant Story!-Whether you are a customer, employee, or owner, there‘s a restaurant in your community that you call home. Throughout this crisis, restaurants continue to face unprecedented challenges. As a result, many restaurants have had to close their doors for good while others are fighting to stay afloat. More must be done for lawmakers to visualize the struggles restaurants face on a daily and long-term basis. That‘s why the National Restaurant Association is asking you to make your voice heard right now by recording a quick video. Everyone has a unique story to share about the restaurant industry during this crisis. It's so easy! Click here for directions on how to record and submit your story. Tell Congress that restaurants need relief now – and every day they wait more restaurants will close. Amplifying our industry‘s message starts with you—thanks for taking the time to tell your story.
9/10/20Bar and Restaurant Hiring Almost Came to a Standstill in August-Jobs growth slowed throughout the country, but unemployment fell to its lowest level since March.
The unemployment rate for the hospitality industry droppedthree points, which still leaves it at a sky-high 18.8%.
9/10/20Restaurant Revival Campaign Goes Live on National TV-TheNRA'snew multimedia Restaurant Revival campaign, the first national T.V. ad for the organization, taps into the sights and sounds associated with dining out and asks diners, Doesn‘t dining out sound good? The :30- and :60-second spots will air throughout this month. On-premises dining has returned, and restaurant operators are doing everything they can to create safe and inviting experiences.
We know safety is top of mind for returning diners—it's top of mind for us as well—so, the ad pairs the familiar sights and sounds with new visual safety cues, including servers wearing masks and theServSafe Dining Commitmentdoor decal, said Tom Bené, President & CEO of the National Restaurant Association.
Support for this campaign spans the entire industry, including suppliers and national brands. As the nation‘s second-largest, private sector employer, a strong restaurant revival can help fuel our nation‘s economic recovery, said Tia Mattson, Executive Vice President of Marketing Communications.Watch the commercial
9/10/20Update on Federal Relief Efforts-Our partners at the National Restaurant Association reported these latest developments today.
As anticipated, 52 Senate Republicans voted in support of proceeding to the COVID relief legislation and all Senate Democrats opposed. Having failed to reach the 60 vote threshold, the bill introduced earlier this week by Senate Majority Leader McConnell is effectively dead. The question now is whether Republicans and Democrats will retreat to their corners and talking points, and stay there, or if they will renew conversations and negotiations. We will continue to push for bipartisan/bicameral compromises/solutions.
For almost six months, the restaurant industry has been managing on-going shutdowns and major disruptions that have wreaked havoc on the nation‘s second-largest employer. Millions remain without jobs and far too many restaurants have closed altogether.
Restaurants have had eight weeks of support in a pandemic that has disrupted their businesses for six months. Congress and the Administration agree that small businesses need more support to survive. The inclusion of the second round of the PPP is proof of that. It‘s time for them to focus bipartisan efforts and pass PPP on its own to keep doors open and people employed while longer-term solutions can be considered. - Sean Kennedy, Executive Vice President Public Policy, National Restaurant Association.
9/9/20Republicans Release Targeted COVID Relief Bill-As negotiations stall on a broad bipartisan COVID-19 package, Senate Republicans are introducing targeted legislation. Leader McConnell plans to hold a procedural vote this week to consider the bill. Democrats are expected to filibuster the motion to proceed to the legislation. Key Provisions Include:
You can read a summary of the provision of the bill here.
In an update from the NRA in a call today, the lobbying team reported that it is going to be very difficult for a consensus to be reached around this bill. Although the ORA and NRA will continue to lobby for passage of the entire bill, part of the messaging will also be to urge Congress not to leave town without at least passing a second round of PPP loans/grants to help our industry survive. As the negotiations continue, we will keep you advised.
9/9/20Norman City Council: 75% Maximum Occupancy on Game Days-The City of Norman recently voted to require 75% maximum occupancy in restaurants, bars on home game days. The city code will go into effect this Saturday.
9/9/20New REAL ID Compliance-The Oklahoma Department of Public Safety has issued new REAL ID compliant Driver Licenses/ID cards as of June 29, 2020. The agency is moving to central issuance. Citizens will leave the DPS office or Tag Agent with a temporary paper license. You can view what the actual license will look like when it comes in the mail here.
9/4/20Vaccine Allocation-The ORA has joined with our partners at the NRA and other state restaurant associations in submitting comments to the draft allocation rules for a possible COVID-19 vaccine. Rather than restaurant employees being categorized as being in Phase 3, the comments submitted argue for our employees to be included in Phase 2 as essential workers. The ORA was added to the letter as being in support of these comments. You can read the full letter here.
9/3/20Edmond Streateries-As an effort to aid businesses, the City of Edmond has created a policy for restaurants and like businesses to operate "streateries" which involves using street parking spaces adjacent to business for outdoor seating and dining.
9/3/20HR & Risk and Safety Expert Exchange-Next week the NRA will be hosting a webinar on Sept 9th from 2-3 p.m. called HR & Risk and Safety Expert Exchange. The webinar will address some of the most frequently asked compliance questions related to COVID-19, from mask mandates, to what to do if an employee gets sick. Register here.
9/3/20Finance, Tax and Audit Exchange Event-Sept. 30-Oct. 1 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., leaders in the industry will host a webinar regarding the latest restaurant relief programs from Congress, and what industry data is saying about the future of the industry. Free for all operators in the industry. Register here.
9/3/20Best Practices for a Second Wave-Recent spikes in new COVID-19 cases in Europe, Asia and Australia have led some leaders to declare their nations are already in the second wave. What could help us survive if that happens? Here are several suggestions:
On Monday, Sept. 14, foodservice experts will share the tools you'll need to continue successful off-premises strategies. Each Monday‘s presentation will be followed by a live discussion the following Thursday. Learn more and register here.
9/1/20Oklahoma City Mask Order Extended-Today the Oklahoma City Council voted to extend the ordinance until at least Oct. 20. Under the ordinance, most citizens in Oklahoma City are required to wear a mask while inside public buildings. The ordinance went into effect immediately, and the council has the option to extend the mandate after October 20. Read more.
9/1/20Tulsa Safely Pandemic Partnership-Tulsa Regional Tourism collaborated with the Tulsa Health Department to create this program designed to bring Tulsa‘s tourism industry businesses together to state that they are reopening in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention‘s and Tulsa Health Department‘s recommendations. The organization was approved and funded by Tulsa County commissioners through Tulsa County CARES dollars. With more than 60 businesses already signed up, Tulsa Regional Tourism expects hundreds of businesses to become partners over the next few weeks. Learn more.
9/1/20National Restaurant Association Launches Restaurant Revival Campaign-The NRA put out its first ever campaign commercial to further extend the narrative that where restaurant dining rooms are open, owners and employees are doing everything they can to create safe and inviting experiences. Support for this campaign spans the entire industry, with every part of the foodservice community coming together to help restaurants recover. We recommend sharing it on your feeds to further spread the message of dining out during this time.
8/31/20Treasury Issues Guidance on Executive Order to Allow Payroll Tax Deferment-The IRS recently released its first notice regarding implementation of the President‘s executive order on payroll tax deferral. According to the document, if the employer opts to defer payroll taxes, the employer is the affected taxpayer, not the employee. The employee cannot make the election to defer. This decision is left to the employer.
8/31/20ServSafe: Food Safety Month-This year‘s National Food Safety Month (NFSM) theme: Managing Risk: 30 Years of Food Safety. Over the next 5 weeks, join the National Food Safety Month celebration by engaging in weekly resources you can find here. Each week will cover a new theme:
8/28/20Changing the Narrative-In our continuing efforts to provide more accurate data to our customers and respond to media inaccuracies, we joined with the National Restaurant Association and the fifty other state restaurant associations in sending this letter to media outlets around the country. Our efforts to change the narrative about dining in restaurants will continue as we navigate these unprecedented times.
8/27/20Interim Final Rule: PPP Loan Forgiveness-The U.S. Small Business Administration and Treasury published an interim final rule earlier this week that provides clarity on Paycheck Protection Program loan forgiveness issues. Specifically, these issues are related to owner-employee compensation calculations and the eligibility of nonpayroll costs related to certain lease and property ownership scenarios. Owner-employees with less than a 5% stake in a C or S corporation are exempted from the PPP owner-employee compensation rule.
8/27/20Still No Guidance Yet on Executive Order to Allow Deferral of Payroll Taxes-The Treasury has not issued any further guidance on implementing the Executive Order. Many are saying that this payroll tax deferment option is impossible without guidance. The NRA joined more than 30 other trade associations to deliver this letter to Speaker Pelosi, Leader McConnell, and Secretary Mnuchin. We will update you once we hear more.
8/26/20Data Surveys-The NRA put together a COVID-19 impact survey. We ask that you take a few moments out of your day to take this survey to further assist with our ongoing advocacy and media efforts. This survey has been sent all over the country, and we want to represent a strong number of responses from Oklahoma to receive valuable COVID-19 data down the road. The data you share will be used in our on-going efforts to lobby Congress for further relief for our industry. Take the Survey
The ORA has also been providing daily updates to the hospitality community since the pandemic led to the closure of dining at restaurants in March. So much has changed since March, and we would like your help in collecting new data on the status of your business operations. Please complete the survey. This will be very helpful in telling the story of the devastating effect that COVID-19 has had on our industry, and will only take two minutes of your time. We will use the information you provide to continue our work with state and local elected officials for relief for our industry.
8/26/20Changing the Narrative-Yesterday we learned from our partners at the NRA that it may be the second, third or fourth week of Sept. before there is any agreement on additional relief for our industry. No talks are scheduled this week during the Republican National Convention. It is believed that actual negotiations will resume next week. There is speculation that another round of PPP loans will be offered even if you received a loan the first time around and that some amount of extended unemployment insurance help will be approved, but not at the $600 a week level that expired at the end of July. There will most likely be other relief items involved in the talks and as they progress, we will keep you informed.
8/25/20Changing the Narrative-In our on-going efforts to change the false narrative being touted by health departments around the country that restaurants are a "hot spot" for the spread of COVID-19, we will be working with the NRA on data which shows there is no science stating that restaurants are spreading the virus more than any other venues. We have been telling this story and will continue to do so. It is becoming clear that contact tracing is not an accurate indicator of where the spread of the virus is happening. As we further engage the media on this issue, we will be challenging them on reporting that is not backed up by science. We will keep you posted as this issue develops.
8/25/20Employee Payroll Tax Deduction Deferral Status-The White House is considering a longer payback or even forgiveness for an employee‘s deferred payroll tax and the Treasury is working to issue Authorizing Guidance. The Trump administration is looking to ensure that the payroll tax deferral implemented by executive action is fully forgiven, meaning there would be no liability for the deferred taxes. As the Executive Order currently stands, workers and their employers will pay 2021 for the taxes that were deferred this year. Removing the liability would require congressional action.
8/24/20ORA Update Survey-The ORA has been providing daily updates to the hospitality community since the pandemic led to the closure of dining at restaurants in March. So much has changed since March, and we would like your help in collecting new data on the status of your business operations. Please complete the survey. This will be very helpful in telling the story of the devastating effect that COVID-19 has had on our industry, and will only take two minutes of your time. We will use the information you provide to continue our work with state and local elected officials for relief for our industry.
8/21/20National Advocacy Update: No Relief Deal Expected for 4-6 Weeks-On Wednesday, Sean Kennedy, the Executive Vice President of Public Affairs for the NRA, presented a webinar to cover what lies ahead in terms of Federal relief for this industry. Federal advocacy efforts are focused on a few major priorities, including:
When a deal does take shape (approximately 4-6 weeks from now), it could come together in the form of a major package or a series of bills. Currently, a bill is taking shape among Senate Republicans that would provide $10 Billion for the U.S. Postal Service, add $300 per week to unemployment benefits, initiate a second round of funding for PPP and include liability protections for businesses. We will continue to keep you updated as more news comes.
8/21/20NRA Law Center Resource: Temperature Checks & Masks-During the last two weeks, having received questions and requests for guidance surrounding the issue of guests refusing to wear masks, the NRA Restaurant Law Center prepared two documents around temperature checks and masks; one for customers and one for staff. Please take a moment to download and review the documents.
8/20/20Recording on Restaurant Relief Webinar: The Road Ahead with Sean Kennedy-We hope you joined us yesterday for a session with Sean Kennedy, Executive Vice President of Public Affairs for the National Restaurant Association. The session provided a comprehensive overview of the latest restaurant relief programs from Congress, such as a dedicated recovery fund, a second round of PPP, long-term loan programs and targeted tax relief. Click here to listen to a recording from yesterday's webinar.
8/20/20Restaurant Operators Need Clarification on Option to Defer Payroll Taxes-The Executive Order, entitled Memorandum on Deferring Payroll Tax Obligations in Light of the Ongoing COVID-19 Disaster directs Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to use his authority to defer withholding, deposit, and payment of the employees‘ 6.2% Social Security tax on certain wages or compensation paid between Sept 1 - Dec 31. Employers are afraid their employees will be hit with a big tax bill in 2021 after the deferment period ends. The National Restaurant Association sent a letter asking the Administration & Congress to clarify this issue.
8/20/20Expansion of Outdoor Dining-We want to remind you about the availability to expand outdoor dining opportunities to increase your ability to serve customers who may be more comfortable dining outdoors.
For information on how to apply in Oklahoma City for the Streatery Program, access the link here.
For information on Tulsa's Parklet program to encourage outdoor dining for restaurants, access the link here.
In conversations with the ABLE Commission yesterday, they confirmed their commitment to work with restaurants who have obtained permission from their local jurisdiction for an expansion of outdoor dining and will help them with a temporary expansion of their licensed premises to allow for the service of alcohol in the expanded space.
8/19/20Tulsa Country CARES Act Website-Tulsa County CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) launched its website this week to provide transparency and connect business owners and residents to Tulsa County CARES programs through an interactive map on the site. On Monday, the Tulsa County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) approved an additional $4.5 million to small businesses and nonprofits through the Tulsa County RESET (Resources to Empower Small Enterprises for Tomorrow) program in order to help small business owners during this difficult time.
8/19/20Vaccines, Flu Season, and Common Workplace Misunderstandings-As flu season approaches and the pandemic continues, employers‘ mandatory vaccination policies may soon become expected. As you proceed under the current unique circumstances, it is important to bear in mind the distinction between mandatory vaccinations and employee screenings such as temperature-taking, symptom checklists and testing, that are currently in widespread use. Learn more here.
8/19/20FDA Approves Cheaper, Faster COVID-19 Test-There's a new saliva-based test developed by Yale School of Public Health that delivers faster results than ones currently available on the market. The SalivaDirect test can determine COVID-19 in less than three hours and was funded by the NBA.
8/19/20Five Steps for Dealing with Anti-Mask Guests-As operators heading into autumn, we should be aware of changing regulations on the municipal and state levels, and the tensions that may increase as we continue to live in a mask-filled world. Here are five steps that are recommended to minimize the chances of a mask incident occurring in the workplace.
8/17/20Tips for Cleaning POS Equipment-Some of our members have mentioned problems with their point-of-sale (POS) equipment having been damaged due to frequent cleaning. Regularly cleaning and disinfecting POS equipment is effective in reducing contamination, but the equipment comes with special manufacturers‘ cleaning instructions that must be followed; certain cleaning agents can cause damage to plastics and rubber and should be avoided including:
Find out the difference between cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting and how to safely care for high-touch POS equipment.
8/17/20Order Up Podcast: NRA's Hudson Riehle Delivers Latest Industry Data-Data is starting to trend in the right direction in the restaurant industry, according to Hudson Riehle. There are huge technological shifts happening that could help restaurants bounce back, and Order Up Podcast provides an update on the current data. Listen in for more info on the state of the restaurant industry.
8/14/20Updated Guidelines from Oklahoma State Health Department-Yesterday, Interim Health Commissioner Dr. Lance Frye issued updated guidelines in the effort to contain the spread of COVID-19. The guidelines are recommendations for best practices in curtailing the spread. You can view the guidelines here.
8/14/20The NRA Sets the Record Straight: New York Times Misinterprets Industry Data-Recently, the New York Times wrote an article that casts a bad light on the restaurant industry by misusing and misinterpreting some very confusing data. The author used this interpretation to suggests restaurants are not safe for dining in. The National Restaurant Association issued a press release yesterday setting the record straight. You can view the NRA release here.
8/14/20Senator Chuck Schumer Co-sponsors Restaurants Act Bill-Today, New York Senator Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader, endorsed the Restaurants Act bill. This is a significant development in the on-going negotiations about the extent and size of possible legislation to provide another round of relief for our industry. Since Senator Schumer is in a leadership position, his endorsement of the bill is valuable to our industry. The National Restaurant Association issued a press release about this development you can view here.
8/12/20Webinar on Restaurant Relief: The Road Ahead with Sean Kennedy-Correction: Yesterday we posted an incorrect date for the webinar. We apologize for any confusion. Join us next week on Wednesday August 19th at 1pm with Sean Kennedy, Executive Vice President of Public Affairs for the National Restaurant Association, for a comprehensive overview of the latest restaurant relief programs from Congress, such as a dedicated recovery fund, a second round of PPP, long-term loan programs and targeted tax relief. Register here.
8/11/20Secretary Mnuchin: COVID-19 Relief-Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the White House is open to resuming coronavirus aid talks with Democrats and putting more relief money on the table to reach a compromise. He did not give a timeline, but said he hoped they could reach a dealthis weekif Democrats made a fair offer.Mnuchin said the administration and Democrats agreed on several major areas:
The Paycheck Protection Program has expired. Small Business Majority said a survey of its members by the organization found that80%of small business owners would like to take a second PPP loan. Without a second loan or other stimulus relief, nearly half – 44% – of members said they would be unable to survive another six months.
The PPP fund has about $130 billion left from the roughly $650 billion Congress provided. The ORA will keep you updated as these negotiations continue in Washington.
8/11/20President Trump: Pandemic Relief-President Trump recently signed an order aimed at extending some pandemic relief after Congress failed to reach a deal. The president‘s orders extend unemployment benefits, provide a payroll tax holiday, defer student loan payments through 2020 and extend the federal moratorium on evictions. The move would extend the unemployment bonus at a reduced level of $400 per week, instead of the $600 per week federal unemployment insurance that was approved in March and expired at the end of July.
In this video update, the National Restaurant Association‘s Sean Kennedy explains what the President‘s actions mean for our industry.Watch it here.
8/10/20Virtual Town Hall Meeting with 5th District Congresswoman Kendra Horn-Today we hosted a hospitality industry Zoom meeting with Congresswoman Kendra Horn. Congresswoman Horn updated us on the efforts in Washington D.C. and provided possible options for recovery and relief in our industry. Click here to view a recording from today's session.
8/7/20Treasury Issues New FAQs on PPP Loan Forgiveness-Earlier this week the SBA, in consultation with the U.S. Treasury Department, issued new guidance through Frequently Asked Questions aimed at helping PPP borrowers navigate maximum loan forgiveness. Here are key questions and answers boiled down from the 10 pages of Treasury FAQs that you should consider.
8/7/20New ServSafe Schedule-Click here to view our upcoming ServSafe schedule through December in both Tulsa and OKC. These classes are social distanced with limited number of attendees, so register before they're booked up! If you were previously scheduled for a class that was postponed due to COVID-19 restrictions and have not rescheduled, please contact Jill Coursey.
8/6/20Update on Federal Restaurant Relief-In a call today with our partners at the National Restaurant Association the ORA received an update on action in Congress to address the next round of relief for our industry and the economy in general. Sean Kennedy, Executive Vice President at the NRA provides the update in this short video. The NRA reports that Congress is going home today, with those negotiating on the next round of relief staying in Washington to continue those talks. If you have not already done so, you can Take Action here to encourage Congress to act on the issues mentioned in the video update.
8/4/20Ask Congress to Help Save Oklahoma Restaurants-Congress has days to agree on what many believe will be the last COVID-19 relief bill of 2020. The two parties disagree on many of the specific plans, and so it's critical that Congress hear from as many Oklahomans as possible in support of the restaurant sector.
The Oklahoma Restaurant Association estimates that many of our restaurants-particularly our local and independent restaurants-will close unless Congress passes relief soon. Help us avoid this crisis by sending an email to your representatives today, asking for their support of the relief Oklahoma restaurants need to continue feeding, employing and serving our communities. Take Action!
8/4/20Virtual Town Hall Meeting with 5th District Congresswoman Kendra Horn-Please join us as we host a Zoom meeting with Congresswoman Kendra Horn next Monday on August 10th at 10:30 a.m. (CDT). Congresswoman Horn will update us on efforts in Washington D.C. to provide relief and recovery to our industry. Click here to register for the Town Hall Meeting.
8/4/20Restaurants Are Not Making People Ill - Yesterday's Food Dude Podcast-Yesterday, Jim Hopper, ORA CEO, had the opportunity to be a guest during The Oklahoman's Community Table Podcast with Dave Cathey - The Food Dude. The theme of the conversation was to talk about what's currently going on inside the restaurant community during this unique time. There was a wide range of topics, but the two major points of the conversation with Hopper focused on what Oklahoma restaurants are doing to keep workers and diners safe while helping keep restaurants open through the COVID-19 pandemic; and that the narrative on Oklahoma restaurants must change. That change in narrative is that to date contract tracing statistics are somewhat misleading and that restaurants and their employees are in fact not making the dining public ill because when an employee is ill they are not allowed to work inside a restaurant. Bruce Rinehart, owner of the Manhattan and Rococo Restaurants was also a guest on the podcast and told of how his business model has changed in the last few months, what it's taking for restaurants to survive in light of the pandemic and how the ORA's information and resources have made a huge difference to the restaurant community. Click here to listen to the full podcast.
8/4/20Oklahoma City Announces Second Round of Small Business Relief-Starting Aug. 4, Oklahoma City business owners and non-profits with 100 or fewer employees may apply for business relief due to losses related to COVID-19. Click here for more information and to apply for COVID-19 disaster relief funds from the Small Business Continuity Program. The program is accepting applications for a second phase, funded with $12M from the CARES Act.
The program reimburses in three categories:
As an increasing number of businesses begin to require face coverings in their facilities, there has been a corresponding increase in the number of well-publicized reports of customers and guests reacting in a belligerent, hostile or even violent manner after being asked to comply with mask rules. What should you do if an anti-mask guest disrupts your business? Here is a five-step plan.
8/3/20Update on Restaurant Relief Negotiations-In cooperation with our partners at the National Restaurant Association, the ORA is urging Congress to approve some aspects of specific restaurant relief. Today, the National Restaurant Association sent a letter to Congressional Leaders with those asks supporting another round of PPP loans and fixes to the current PPP Loan program. You can read the letter to leadership here along with documentation supporting those items that need to be addressed by Congress. As the week of negotiations unfolds, the ORA will keep you informed.
8/3/20Take Action: Protect Restaurants-The majority of restaurants might not be eligible for a new round of PPP funding. As Congress tries to move towards an agreement on a final COVID-19 relief package, plans have emerged for a new round of PPP funding that would require businesses to demonstrate a 50% loss of revenue, but 55% of restaurants that are losing money would not be eligible for this new funding. Take action now to help protect restaurants from surprise tax liabilities!
7/31/20HEALS Act Introduced-As of today, there is not an agreement between all those negotiating the details of the next relief package. Next week will be crucial to get an agreement that can pass both Houses of Congress and gain the President's signature prior to the August recess of Congress. Next week, we will share a call to action so you can contact our Congressional delegation and ask them to save Oklahoma Restaurants and the jobs they provide. ORA will keep you informed as there are further developments.
7/30/20Surprise Tax Bill Awaits-There is progress to fight surprise tax bills under the PPP loan after a recent ruling by the U.S. Treasury Department. It will cost the federal government no additional money to correct this issue and more people are paying attention to this as a problem, detailed in the Wall Street Journal here. To ensure PPP forgiven loan expenses (round one) are not taxable, we need to keep up the pressure since it was not included in the HEALS Act. As Senator John Cornyn of Texas says, it amounts to a "hidden tax increase" and his bill to correct the issue "costs nothing."
In the coming days, our NRA partners will be providing additional information, talking points for us to use when talking to our Congressional Delegation, and a Call to Action. ORA will continue to keep you advised as this develops.
7/30/20Don't Forget Employer Obligations for Paid Sick Leave-As you are dealing with employees who need to be off work for COVID-19, check out this FAQ on paid leave eligibility, as well as other questions you may have.
7/30/20A Bit of Good News to Share-Congratulations to ORA board member Joe Davidson from Oklahoma Joe's Barbecue for being inducted into the BBQ Hall of Fame this year!
7/29/20HEALS Act Introduced-Early this week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell introduced the HEALS Act (Health Economic Assistance Liability Protection and Schools). This is the Republican version of a relief bill for the economy and will be the starting point for negotiations with the Democrats and the White House. ORA will keep you informed as this develops.
7/29/20How To Bring Live Music Back In a COVID-19 Environment-This recorded webinar features industry professionals as they share their experiences on slowly reintegrating live music back into their restaurants/bars while simultaneously adhering to local city and state regulations. View highlights from the webinar here.
7/28/20ORA Seeks New Narrative-Today, we sent this email to Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt and the Oklahoma City/County Health Department:
Mayor Holt, I am reaching out to you and including Phil Maytubby from the OCCHD on this email for help in changing the story that restaurants are a leading "hotspot" for spreading the virus. With all due respect, I believe the messaging in the Pie Chart released recently showing Restaurants as one of four serious spreaders of the virus is misleading and has done much harm to the restaurant industry by creating a false sense of fear within the dining public.
The data that has been shared with us indicates that out of 269 contact tracing cases used for the Pie Chart, a total of 16 patrons were identified as having contracted the virus by eating out, 6% of the total cases. And it is unclear to us exactly how contact tracing is supposed to be utilized, as a tool for letting others in contact with a positive case know they have been exposed, or trying to determine where a person caught the virus? Not sure exactly how contact tracing can be used to tell where a person caught the virus.
Recently, in cooperation with the OCCHD, the TCCHD, and the State Health Department, the ORA distributed the Oklahoma Restaurant Pledge to Safety. This document, reviewed by the various health departments, spells out in very specific detail the steps restaurants pledge to take to keep their customers and their employees safe. No need to go into depth here on what the Pledge says as you can view it in the link. I just want to share this thought with you. The restaurant industry in Oklahoma, and nationwide, has been harmed with loss of jobs and lost revenue more than any other industry and it's not even close. We need some help in making sure the message put out to the public is accurate, but not used to harm our industry. I would never suggest the Pie Chart was used to harm restaurants. I have had too many conversations with you and Phil Maytubby to know that is not true. But I would suggest that using very scant data....6% of diners may have contracted the virus by dining out....has done exactly that.
So I leave you with this request. Please help us change the narrative about restaurants and dining out. The next time this type of information is released, please take a moment to make sure it will be worth it to cause that type of concern among people who are eager to dine out again. To us, six percent doesn't seem to be worth the harm, especially when there are questions about the accuracy of contact tracing on WHERE a person got the virus.
We're doing everything we can to follow all the mandates on masks and doing our best to make sure our customers know the importance of wearing a mask.
Thank you for always listening to us and please help us change this narrative.
7/28/20Restaurants Unfairly Targeted- A narrative targeting restaurants as hotbeds for spreading the COVID-19 virus has begun taking off in the media and with some local officials and health departments around the country. Yesterday, the National Restaurant Association sent a letter to the National Governors Association challenging this perception. You can read the letter here. The National Restaurant Association also issued this press release refuting the narrative that restaurants are a cause of the spike in cases.
The ORA is working with Oklahoma's health officials and local elected officials (as shown above) to change this narrative about restaurants being hotbeds for spreading the virus.
7/27/20PPP Forgiveness-Borrowers and their advisers might be eager to move ahead with the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) forgiveness process, but the Small Business Administration and Treasury have yet to issue expected FAQs. Certain questions remain related to topics such as self-employment and what counts as a utility under PPP rules. We would advise you to not rush this process, and consider these tips before proceeding.
7/24/20NRA Webinar: Blueprint for Restaurant Revival-The NRA is hosting a webinar tomorrow, July 23, at 3pm regarding an overview on the Blueprint for Restaurant Revival, which, in summary, is a plan for short-term restaurant revival and long-term restaurant recovery for our industry. This plan will guide for Congress and the Administration, as lawmakers work to craft the next COVID-19 relief package. Register here.
7/23/20Mask FAQ: Refusing Service to Someone Who Won't Wear a Mask But Claims to Have a Medical Reason-A restaurant should try not to refuse service to someone with a legitimate disability, but it can be hard to know who has a disability and who does not. The challenge is that under the Americans with Disabilities Act, you cannot ask what the disability is or for documentation. Learn more here.
Fake face mask exemption ID cards are also currently going viral around the country. The DOJ declared last week that it has not issued ID cards and does not endorse any such identification. Be on the lookout for these ID cards.
7/22/20Take Action: No New Tariffs on Food & Alcohol-The Administration is conducting a review of actions in regards to tariffs of up to 100% on food and alcohol products from the European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom (UK). The list includes seafood, dairy products, ham, fruit products, pasta, coffee, olive oil, chocolate, potatoes, baked products, wines, whiskey, beer, gin, brandy, vodka and other food products. If enacted, the tariffs would significantly impact restaurants, profoundly affecting our supply chains and operations. The deadline for comments from our industry is this Sunday, July 26.
Please add your voice!
7/22/20Our Pledge to Safety: Updated-As science and CDC recommendations change in response to best practices for combating COVID-19 we have updated the Pledge to Safety. The current changes address new protocols for a return to work and also contact tracing. See the updated Pledge here.
7/22/20NRA Webinar: Blueprint for Restaurant Revival-The NRA is hosting a webinar tomorrow, July 23, at 3pm regarding an overview on the Blueprint for Restaurant Revival, which, in summary, is a plan for short-term restaurant revival and long-term restaurant recovery for our industry. This plan will guide for Congress and the Administration, as lawmakers work to craft the next COVID-19 relief package. Register here.
7/22/20Common Questions and Answers Regarding Tulsa's Mask Mandate-Last week, Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum signed a face mask emergency order now in effect. A full copy of the emergency order is in the last story of this publication, however here are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) regarding Tulsa's mandated masks requirements.
7/21/20Edmond City Council: Undetermined on Mask Mandate-The Edmond City Council held another meeting yesterday to discuss their emergency proclamation and any changes that may be needed, such as a mask mandate. The debate included public comment and the decision has been delayed until next Monday's meeting. The Council did determine that each business in Edmond should post a notice detailing their individual business mask requirements. We will keep you informed on the outcome of the meeting next week.
7/20/20City Emergency Proclamations: COVID-19 Guidance-Multiple cities have released updated Emergency Proclamations. The ORA has continued to remain instrumental in providing input to state officials in order to help keep our businesses open and safe. If you have questions, please don't hesitate to reach out to us.
Below are several emergency proclamations and executive orders based on city health departments and city mayors. We will include more as they are released:
Revised Declaration of Emergency
Midwest City Ordinance
Emergency Mask Order
Emergency Mask Order
*Note: This is the most up-to-date information available at the time this email was sent. Some information may have changed since then, so we encourage you to check other sources as well.
7/20/20Common Questions and Answers Regarding OKC's New Mask Mandate-On Friday, OKC Mayor David Holt of signed a face mask emergency order now in effect. A full copy of the emergency order is in the last story of this publication, however here are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) regarding OKC's new mandated masks requirements.
7/20/20COVID-19 Alert System-A new COVID-19 alert system was developed to demonstrate the risk categories for each county in Oklahoma. This 4-color, county-by-county alert system was built using the White House‘s methodology model for new cases per 100,000 population. In order for a county to be elevated to the "red risk" category, one of four additional gates must be met that would indicate emerging challenges in the delivery of healthcare services.
7/20/20Music Licensing Clarification for Extended Patios-If you currently hold a music licensing agreement with BMI (Broadcast Music Inc.) the license will extend to your outdoor patio expansions. Some of you may also have online streaming music services for business (such as Apple, Spotify, etc.) or juke boxes; these fees may be covered for you. If you do not have a current license with a music rights organization or a streaming service and plan to add music or tv to your dining experience (and have not previously done so), you‘ll need to take action to avoid potential litigation. To learn more about music licensing, go here. The ORA currently has a discount agreement with BMI. Note: Discounts apply for active members only, as the companies will verify your status.
7/20/20Free 'Masks Required' Signs for You To Utilize-As an ORA member resource, and in light of masks mandated around the state of Oklahoma, we would like to provide a free downloadable "Masks Required" sign for you to print and post at your businesses entrance.
7/17/20Oklahoma City Council Votes In Favor of Mandated Masks-Mayor David Holt of OKC signed a face mask ordinance into effect, after the Oklahoma City Council voted 6-3 on Friday, July 17th in favor of the order. It was then voted 7-3 to become effective immediately. Citizens are required to wear a face covering or face shield over both their nose and mouth when inside a commercial business or other structure, building or space open to the public. Masks will also be required in an outdoor space when unable to social distance staying 6 feet apart unless they are from the same household. Exemptions apply to those 10 years and younger, those individuals with developmental disabilities, the deaf or those who are hard of hearing. Non-compliance penalties will be enforced.
The full ordinance for Oklahoma City will be released soon. OH&LA will continue to keep you informed as information is available. If you have questions regarding the ordinance, feel free to contact us.
7/16/20Oklahoma City Council to Vote in Mask Mandate Tomorrow
This afternoon, at least one media outlet posted a story implying the Oklahoma City-County Health Department (OCCHD) recommends the immediate closing of restaurants and bars. ORA believes this report to be misleading.The facts are that closing restaurants and bars is one of five options recommended by theOCCHDto the Oklahoma City Council and closures were the last option on the list of their recommendations - masks being the first recommendation. The OKC City Council plans a discussion and vote on mandatory masks tomorrow, and the ORA will keep members informed of any changing regulations or mandates.
7/16/20 Oklahoma Restaurant Pledge To Safety & Well-Being: Virtual Recording-Earlier today, the ORA hosted the second virtual meeting to discuss the Pledge and to answer questions and share best practices as we navigate the challenges we are facing. We hope you were able to attend, but if not, click here to hear more about the safety measures of the Pledge and watch the presentation.
7/16/20 Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Employee Paid Leave Rights-As a reminder, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA or Act) requires certain employers to provide employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. The Department of Labor‘s (Department) Wage and Hour Division (WHD) administers and enforces the new law's paid leave requirements. These provisions will apply from the effective date through December 31. For details, click here.
7/16/20 Legal Resource Center: Here to Help You-We understand these are tough times for all in our industry. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many restaurants are forgoing legal help for fear of accruing expenses they won't be able to pay. We want to remind you that the ORA Legal Resource Center is here to help with any questions you might have. This can include:
Our partners at Barrow & Grimm in Tulsa and Pierce Couch Hendrickson Baysinger & Green in OKC are here to help. To access this assistance, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 800.375.8181 and ask for Chandy Rice.
7/15/20 Add Your Voice to the Fight!-The ORA has been working alongside our national partner, the National Restaurant Association, to develop a roadmapfor the recovery of restaurantsacross the state and country. ThisBlueprint for Revivalwas put together with input from our industry through the survey we sent out. Per the survey, you identified a $120 billion recovery fund and a second round of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funding as the top goal that should be pursued in our advocacy agenda.We've stated what we need, now as Congress discusses their final COVID-19 relief for 2020, it's imperative that we make a strong final push to get this done.
Take action now!
7/14/20 Paycheck Protection Program Extended to Aug 8th-The SBA's Paycheck Protection Program began accepting new applications on July 6th. This new round of applications will extend through August 8th. If you have not received a PPP loan, you are encouraged to talk to your lender about applying if the program is right for you. The Paycheck Protection Program is a loan designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll. SBA will forgive loans if all employee retention criteria are met, and the funds are used for eligible expenses. To apply, click here.
7/14/20 Back of the House Design Strategies for COVID-19-Mitigating the potential spread of the coronavirus means adding layers of protection to reduce risks of contamination. Since person-to-person transmission is the primary source of infection, strategies focus on reconfiguring your restaurant to maximize social distancing and sanitation. In addition to the food safety practices you already use, perhaps the best way to help ensure your back of the house setup minimizes contact points is to reconfigure the flow of food through your restaurant in the same way you‘ve done for people. The National Restaurant Association has provided specific guidance on how to do this.
7/14/20 Zoom Video from the ORA Restaurant Pledge July 14th Meeting-Today the ORA hosted the first virtual meeting to discuss the Pledge and to answer questions and share best practices as we navigate the challenges we are facing. Click here to hear more about the safety measures in the Pledge and listen to the discussion from today's meeting.
7/13/20 Business Sign Kit & Free COVID-19 Testing-The Oklahoma Health Department has provided free COVID-19 business signage for you to utilize. These signs can be displayed around your business to help remind customers to remain cautious, social distance and provide direction for entrances, elevators and break rooms. These can be downloaded, printed or shared and are available in both English and Spanish format.
Each county health department also provides free COVID-19 tests for the general public, so you can be tested as often as necessary. They're offered once per week, every other week. Find out more details by contacting the county health department in your area. Letters can also be provided if your employer needs proof that you've been tested.
7/10/20 ORA To Host Two Virtual Meetings: Oklahoma Restaurant Pledge-As things rapidly change, the ORA has released "Our Pledge to Safety and Well Being". This pledge complements the previously released Oklahoma Restaurant Promise and outlines a restaurant's pledge to take the proper steps when an employee has been exposed to or is diagnosed with COVID-19. You can read the Pledge here. The ORA will be hosting two identical virtual meetings next week to discuss the Pledge and to answer questions and share best practices as we navigate the challenges we are facing. The first meeting will be held on Tuesday, July 14 at 10 am. You can register for the meeting here. On Thursday, July 16 we will host a second virtual meeting at 10 am for those operators unable to participate on Tuesday, or if you want to participate twice. Please register for the July 16 meeting here. We hope you will be able to join us on Tuesday or Thursday of next week at 10:00 am.
7/9/20 Restaurant Pledge to Safety and Well Being-The ORA announces the release of the "Our Pledge to Safety and Well Being". The new pledge complements the previously released "Oklahoma Restaurant Promise" and outlines a restaurant's pledge to take the proper steps when an employee has been exposed to or diagnosed with COVID-19. Elements of "Our Pledge to Safety and Well Being" include the steps a restaurant will take with Employees Who Are Ill, Employees with COVID-19 Symptoms at Work, COVID-19 Exposed Employees with No Symptoms, Contact Tracing Employees Exposed to COVID-19, Clean and Disinfect and Returning to Work. The ORA has developed the guidelines in cooperation with the State Health Department and the Health Departments in Oklahoma City and Tulsa.
We encourage all restaurants to embrace the pledge by establishing these protocols in their operation, and posting the pledge in their restaurant for customers and employees to understand the steps the restaurant is taking to keep dining out a safe and enjoyable activity. View the pledge here.
7/9/20 McConnell Calls for 5-year Lawsuit Shield for Businesses-
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell outlined new details this week of what he wants to see in the next and potentially final coronavirus relief package, including a five-year liability shield for businesses and a possible new round of stimulus checks aimed at workers making $40,000 a year and less.
7/9/20 Phase 2: Oklahoma Business Relief Program Grants-Phase 2 begins at 8 a.m. on July 14. Many participating financial institutions are continuing to work with businesses interested in applying to gather the required information in advance. OBRP offers funding for businesses that have suffered revenue loss due to the pandemic. Businesses submit their applications through participating financial institutions, which are listed on the Commerce website. Phase 2 will open up another $50 million, and it is anticipated that the funds will go even faster, as business owners and financial institutions have additional time to prepare. Learn more.
7/8/20 Electric Choice-AERO is a non-profit group that has been working with consumers of electricity, legislative leaders, trade associations including the ORA, and others toward deregulating electricity to provide better pricing for this power source. You can read about those efforts here.
7/7/20 One Question - ORA Update Poll-Since Mid-March when restaurants were closed due to the pandemic, and continuing through the recovery process, the ORA has been producing this daily update to provide you with the latest news that impacts your business. Our updates have announced informative webinars and roundtable discussions, and health and safety protocols, as well as reporting the association's progress in the fight to make vital improvements to legislation, such as PPP loans and expansion opportunities for liquor sales.
ORA is constantly evaluating the work we do for the hospitality industry and we‘d like to hear from you about how frequently you would like to receive these updates. We invite you to answer this one-question survey so we know how frequently you wish to receive our updates.
7/6/20 PPP Loan Data Now Available-The SBA and US Treasury Departments released PPP loan data today. You can find that information here. The National Restaurant Association released this statement today about the need for Congress and the policy makers to use the data to craft additional help:
"Today‘s release of Paycheck Protection Program loan data provides important insight into the program‘s success. We urge federal policymakers to dive into it to determine how best to devise support for small businesses like restaurants that are clearly on the ropes. Countless restaurants across the country used a PPP loan to keep their employees on the payroll, but they are emerging from the program with challenges that have only grown in scope. For many, this uncertainty will linger until a vaccine is available. The PPP has been a bridge for many during the shutdown, but the restaurant industry is still looking at months of starts and stops to find a new normal in business operations. We encourage Congress and the Administration to consider bipartisan options to support the industry‘s recovery."
7/6/20 New City Emergency Proclamations: COVID-19 Guidance -Multiple cities have released updated Emergency Proclamations. The ORA has continued to remain instrumental in providing input to state officials in order to help keep our businesses open and safe. If you have questions, please don't hesitate to reach out to us. Below are several emergency proclamations and executive orders based on city health departments and city mayors. We will include more as they are released:
*Note: This is the most up-to-date information available at the time this email was sent. Some information may have changed since then, so we encourage you to check other sources as well.
7/1/20 Mayor David Holt Announces Restrictions on OKC Restaurants and Bars-Mayor David Holt released new mandates for restaurants, bars and theatre-style venues in an attempt to limit people‘s exposure to COVID-19. Beginning this Friday, July 3rd, for the next 14 days, all employees of restaurants and bars must wear masks. The capacity at bars will be lowered to 50% to prevent further spread. Mayor Holt also stated that all venues with theater-style seating, such as weddings, funerals and churches must have staggered seating with two seats in between each seat. Find out more about the mandates here.
7/1/20 Employer Responsibilities Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)-As restaurants reopen and are experiencing employees affected by Covid-19 now is a good time to revisit employer responsibilities for helping those employees. You can read this article on FAQ's about the FFCRA here.
6/30/20 Oklahoma COVID-19 Testing Sites-Several of our members have requested a list of COVID-19 testing sites available in the state. We put together a list of both rapid testing sites which only take 15 minutes to receive results, as well as free testing sites that typically take around 48-72 hours to learn your results. They are listed below:
6/29/20 Outdoor Dining Programs: Tulsa & OKC-The Tulsa City Council recently approved the parklet program and it was officially signed into law and instituted. Information about the program and sidewalk cafes can be found here. On the website you‘ll find information, manuals, and applications for the sidewalk café and parklets programs and a flow chart to help determine which program(s) is right for your business. It is important to note that fees have been waived for both programs. Sidewalk cafes are allowed through June 30, 2021 and Parklets are allowed through March 31, 2021 to align with each program renewal date.
The City of Oklahoma City also created a streamlined process for bars and restaurants to obtain the necessary permit for a streatery (or parklet program). The City will review applications for a revocable permit issued by the Public Works Director. Creating well-defined criteria for use in an existing administrative process makes it easier for businesses to quickly adapt to increasing demand for outdoor, socially distant seating space. Find the full guidelines and requirements here, and a link to the revocable permit application here.
6/29/20 Smile While Wearing a Mask -Ever look at yourself in the mirror and smile while wearing your mask? Your guests need to feel welcome, comfortable and they need to know that you are glad to see them. Any of your staff members that interact with a guest need to show them genuine hospitality and greet them with a warm smile. Your smile makes a huge impact, even if it is coming from behind a mask! Watch this quick video to see tips and tricks to project a smile, even while masked.
6/25/20 Corrected Reminder: Employees Who Test Positive -
We would like to correct yesterday's announcement regarding your responsibility for reporting when an employee tests positive for COVID-19. We apologize for any confusion. Please remember that once an employee‘s COVID-19 test results are confirmed, a health department liaison will follow up with the employer to advise them of the positive test result and next steps the employer needs to take. No business may allow an employee to continue to work who has tested positive, or has COVID-19 symptoms. Failure to do so could put your restaurant at risk of closure as well as put the larger restaurant industry at risk of government mandates that are not currently in existence.
6/25/20A Quick Update on Federal Relief Efforts -On the federal front, many of you are asking about a second round of PPP funding. SRA Executives had a good talk yesterday with the NRA lobbying team in DC. We were told it will be in mid-to-late July when those discussions really start to pick up. Due to the holiday break and the Senate and House not being in session, we don't expect those conversations to start until after the 4th of July and then culminate around the third or fourth week of the month. We believe any additional funding would be delivered through the PPP, and we certainly believe our industry would benefit from these new funds considering the catastrophic impact COVID-19 has had on our industry. We will keep everyone posted and know that we are working very hard to make sure that we are in those conversations and that we can secure another round of funding for all of you.
6/24/20 Let's Do Our Part -In response to the updated public health advisory from the Oklahoma Department of Health, we have provided updated guidance for the industry and our members. As case numbers continue to rise, it is essential that we do all that we can to keep our employees and guests safe.
Additionally, we want to strongly caution foodservice operators to abide by statewide orders and local regulations. While many are following the rules, we know that some are not. At a press conference yesterday, David Holt encouraged that masks be worn when out in public.
We are committed to keeping you informed and helping you navigate this difficult time. If you have any questions, need clarification or seek additional resources, please do not hesitate to reach out.
6/24/20 Reminder: Report Employees Who Test Positive-Please remember a restaurant has the responsibility to report to their Local Health Department when they have an employee who has tested positive for COVID-19. COVID-19 is a communicable disease and must be reported according to Health Department guidelines. No business is allowed to let an employee continue to work who has tested positive, or has COVID-19 symptoms. Failure to do so could put your restaurant at risk of closure as well as put the larger restaurant industry at risk of government mandates that are not in existence right now.
6/24/20 Streatery Applications -The City of Oklahoma City has created a streamlined process for bars and restaurants to obtain the necessary permit for a streatery, as demand increases for temporary outdoor seating. A streatery (street + eatery) uses on-street parking spaces adjacent to a business to allow for outdoor seating where sidewalk or patio space is not available or not practical. The City will review applications for a revocable permit issued by the Public Works Director. Creating well-defined criteria for use in an existing administrative process makes it easier for businesses to quickly adapt to increasing demand for outdoor, socially distant seating space. Find the full guidelines and requirements here, and a link to the revocable permit application here.
6/24/20 State of Oklahoma to provide Oklahoma Business Relief Program -The Oklahoma Department of Commerce is allocating $50 million from the Federal CARES Act to provide Oklahoma businesses much needed financial assistance. As you know, we have been left out of the Federal PPP loans to this date. The application period begins on Monday, June 29 and goes through July 10, 2020. This is a first-come, first served basis and funds will be provided to the business through financial institutions who choose to participate; At least 20% of the program funds will be designated for minority owned businesses. The Oklahoma Department of Commerce has released additional details on this program. The details can be found here.
6/23/20 Updated Loan Forgiveness Rules -Last night, the Small Business Administration (SBA) and U.S. Department of Treasury released updated Loan Forgiveness rules. The improvements of the PPP Flexibility Act, new details on loan forgiveness timing, and required documentation for business activity exemptions from loan forgiveness reduction are included below.
New Improvements – Confirmed for PPP Recipients
Clarity on Timing for Loan Forgiveness Process
Documentation Required to Obtain an Exemption from Loan Forgiveness Reductions Regarding FTE Rehiring
SBA Example: A PPP borrower is in the business of selling beauty products both online and at its physical store. During the covered period, the local government where the borrower‘s store is located orders all non-essential businesses, including the borrower‘s business, to shut down their stores, based in part on COVID-19 guidance issued by the CDC in March 2020. *Because the borrower's business activity during the covered period was reduced compared to its activity before February 15, 2020 due to compliance with COVID Requirements or Guidance, the borrower satisfies the Flexibility Act‘s exemption and will not have its forgiveness amount reduced because of a reduction in FTEs during the covered period, if the borrower maintains records regarding the reduction in business activity and the local government‘s shutdown orders that reference a COVID-19 Requirement or Guidance as described above.
As of June 19, SBA and Treasury plan to publicly share PPP recipient business names, addresses, NAICS codes, zip codes, business type, demographic data, non-profit information, jobs supported and PPP loan amount ranges as follows:
6/23/20 Your Employee Tests Positive... What Should You Do?-Even if a business follows all of the state and federal COVID-19 protocols, it is very likely that someone who comes into that business will later be diagnosed with COVID-19. Restaurants are no exception, which is why restaurants continue to follow strict sanitation, social distancing and health screening protocols. Oklahoma has not issued requirements or recommendations to businesses who learn that an employee came into the business before being diagnosed with COVID-19. However, employees with signs or symptoms of COVID-19 cannot work until the quarantine period has passed. However, the CDC has issued guidance on this question, and so the Oklahoma Restaurant Association recommends that all restaurants follow these CDC guidelines at least until the state issues additional guidance.
Suggestions for Your Restaurant When an Employee Tests Positive:
6/23/20 Oklahoma Business Relief Program -Starting June 26, Oklahoma businesses can apply for $25,000 grants from the Oklahoma Business Relief Program. Approved applications will be submitted to the Oklahoma Department of Commerce. Applications will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis, and funds will be provided to the business through the financial institution. During the first phase of applications, at least 20% of the program funds will be designated for minority-owned businesses. Learn more here.
6/22/20 Governor Announces Grant Program to Help Small Businesses- Over the weekend Governor Stitt announced a grant program to help small businesses in Oklahoma with losses they have suffered from Covid-19. Applications for the grants will be on first come first served basis and will open on Friday, June 26. Some of the highlights of the program include:
Maximum of $25,000 per grant
Grant amount equal to two months of average total payroll. The business may choose from:
6/16/20 Favorable Interim Rule on PPP Flexibility Act Released- On June 11, new guidance reflecting the Payroll Protection Program Flexibility Act was issued by the Small Business Administration and U.S. Department of Treasury. These regulations are consistent with our understanding of PPPFA and favorably resolves the 60% cliff concern.
You can read the SBA Interim Rule by clicking here.
6/15/20 Partnership with the American Red Cross- The ORA has been contacted by the American Red Cross about our members providing PAID meals to those affected during the time of disaster. As you know the American Red Cross stands ready to assist the citizens of Oklahoma with recovery efforts should a disaster strike the state. The organization wants to ensure that they have vendors ready and able to provide meals - paid by the American Red Cross - to all those affected by a disaster. If you are a restaurant and caterer who are interested in this type of partnership with the American Red Cross, please contact:
Kevin RC Bellamy
American Red Cross | Feeding Coordinator
Kansas/Oklahoma Chapter: (785) 492-0837
6/15/20 PPP Loan Forgiveness- 45 Senators, including Senators Lankford and Inhofe, sent a letter to the Treasury and SBA requesting that they create a one page PPP forgiveness certification for loans less than $250,000. This would make the forgiveness process for smaller PPP loans simpler. You can read their letter here.
The ORA, in partnership with other state restaurant associations and the National Restaurant Association will be sending a similar letter. We will share more details on these efforts as they become available.
6/10/20 PPP Loan Reminder- As a reminder, if you have not already applied for a PPP loan, there is still money available in that fund. The deadline to apply for a PPP loan for those who have not already applied is June 30. We encourage you to talk to your lender soon!
6/9/20 FAQ's on the PPP Loan Fix Bill- As we have been reporting, Congress passed legislation with fixes to the PPP Loans. It has been signed by the President and is now law. Below is an article with good information on FAQ's. It is provided to us by Sheryl Willert, a partner in the law firm Williams Kastner. Her firm is affiliated through the USLAW Network with Pierce, Couch, Hendrickson, Baysinger, & Green, one of the firms in our Legal Resource Center. You can read the article here.
6/5/20 ABLE Approves Alcohol to Go Rules- At the ABLE commission meeting today commissioners approved the emergency rules to implement the new law contained in SB 1928 which made alcohol to go permanent in the statutes. The emergency rules will go into effect as soon as approved and signed by Governor Stitt. You can view the newly adopted rules here.
Highlights of the rules are:
As a reminder: All sales of alcohol to go are not subject to the 13.5% gross receipts tax, only the applicable sales tax, since the alcohol is not being consumed on-premises.
As always, please contact Jim Hopper or Collin Graham if you have questions or need additional information.
6/5/20 President Signs PPP Fix Legislation- Earlier today, President Trump signed the Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act into law. Thank you again for all of your efforts over the past several weeks to advocate for these important changes.
While the legislation extends aspects like the 24-week period, June 30th is the final day for those who have not previously received a PPP loan to be issued one. If you already received the loan, you cannot be issued a second one.
We wanted to let you know about this June 30th deadline for receiving an initial PPP loan. If you want to apply you should speak with your lender right away.
6/5/20 Testing sites for COVID-19- Regional COVID-19 testing sites are open in multiple cities in Oklahoma as a result of a cross-county, city and state health system partnership. COVID-19 testing is open to everyone; people no longer need to exhibit symptoms to be tested for COVID-19. Click here to view the full list.
6/4/20 Breaking News - US Senate passes changes to PPP- In case you missed our announcement this morning, we were very pleased to report that the Senate late yesterday approved H.R.7010, the Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act. This bill will make a number of retroactive improvements to the PPP, including:
Analysis of how the bill would change PPP for current users can be found here. The bill is expected to be signed into law by the president very soon. Expect a memo outlining its retroactive application and how you can take advantage of it after consulting with Treasury regarding implementation.
Our partners at the National Restaurant Association were the first ones to call for changes to the PPP after realizing it was broken for our industry.Today's action is a much needed relief for Oklahoma's hospitality industry.
6/3/20 ABLE to Vote on Emergency Rules for Alcohol to Go- At an ABLE commission meeting this Friday, an agenda item will be voted on to approve emergency rules to go along with the new legislation contained in Senate Bill 1928. As we have previously reported, this bill made permanent the ability of restaurants and other licensees to sell beer and wine only, in original sealed packaging, for to-go and delivery. Prior to the passage of SB 1928, restaurants could do so under temporary rules from the ABLE commission. Now with the passage of the legislation, those rules will be permanent in the Oklahoma Statutes. ORA has been involved in the drafting of the rules, and as soon as they are approved we will share them in a future update. As a reminder, restaurants with the proper licenses are currently allowed to sell wine and beer only to-go and for delivery and the 13.5% mixed beverage tax is NOT collected on those sales because the alcohol is not being consumed on-premises.
6/2/20 Phase 3 Guidelines Updated- We have been working with the State Health Department and the Health Departments from Tulsa and Oklahoma City on new general guidelines for the hospitality industry for Phase 3 guidance. These guidelines will replace the guidelines posted last Friday in our update. The guidelines will also be posted on the Oklahoma Commerce Department website soon. You can view the new general guidelines here. As always, if you have questions you can reach out to Jim Hopper.
As has been the case in Phase 1 and Phase 2, some cities have created their own guidelines for the industry:
*Note: This is the most up-to-date information available at the time this email was sent. Some information may have changed since then, so we encourage you to check other sources as well.
5/29/20 Governor Announces Phase 3 to Start on June 1st- Governor Stitt announced today that Phase 3 will begin on Monday, June 1st. You can read the press release of his announcement here.
The ORA has been working with the State Health Department and the Health Departments from Oklahoma City and Tulsa. The guidelines for restaurants and hotels have been fully approved by the State Health Department, which can be viewed here.
The guidelines will also be posted on the State website as guidance for our industry. As always, be sure to check with your local municipality as they may have additional guidance.
5/29/20 Oklahoma Exceeds 90,000 Testing Goal for May- The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) announced that the State has surpassed its goal to collect and test more than 90,000 specimens in the month of May. OSDH had processed a total of 183,632 tests conducted since COVID-19 was first detected in early March. They published the latest numbers in their Executive Order COVID-19 Report to Governor Kevin Stitt and demonstrated that as COVID-19 testing increased over the month of May, the percentage of positive cases dropped to a record low of 3.8% in Oklahoma.
5/29/20 PPP Loan Fixes- As we reported yesterday, the House passed H.R. 7010 by an almost unanimous vote. If you have not already done so, we ask you to take action to urge the Senate to fix the PPP loans to better help our industry. You can take action here. ORA members can also text FixPPP to 52886 to take action.
5/28/20 Update on PPP Changes Being Considered in the House- Earlier this afternoon, the House passed HR 7010, which makes positive changes to PPP. We now need the Senate to take action and need your help in encouraging our Senators to take action.
Congress doesn‘t agree on much these days – but the House of Representatives listened to us and today passed a bipartisan bill fixing the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The vote on H.R. 7010 was 417-1. This nearly unanimous vote is evidence of the strength the restaurant industry can have when we speak with a unified voice.
The Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act makes desperately-needed improvements for restaurants with PPP loans, including:
The bill was approved overwhelmingly in the House, but it has an uncertain path in the Senate. They need to hear from you now to pass this bill, fix the PPP, and preserve America‘s restaurants! Click here to contact your Senators and make your voice heard! ORA members can also text FixPPP to 52886 to take action.
5/27/20 Update on PPP Changes Being Considered in the House- We have just been informed the House of Representatives will vote tomorrow morning on changes to the PPP loans. As of right now (details can change rapidly in this environment) this is an overview of the specifics of the bill:
You can view the bill H.R. 7010 here. An analysis by the National Restaurant Association can be viewed here. It is widely believed the bill will pass the House tomorrow with bipartisan support. We will share an update with you and a call to action for the Senate as soon as possible.
5/26/20 Big News On Fixes to PPP- Together, our calls for Congress to fix the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) on behalf of the restaurant industry are making a difference. This Wednesday, House lawmakers will vote to approve bipartisan legislation that will make real changes in PPP, extending the period restaurants can use to spend federal loans, giving more flexibility in how the loans are used, and extending the date that restaurants can bring their teams back online.
For over six weeks, we have worked with you to push Congress to finally make the PPP work for an industry that has seen more job loss than any other during this pandemic. This week‘s scheduled vote is proof-positive that together, we can make a difference.
We thank House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) for their bipartisan leadership in supporting this measure, and Representatives Chip Roy (R-TX) and Dean Phillips (D-MN) for drafting this needed legislation.
The Senate is considering how to fix the PPP – and we will need your voice to press for them to finish the job. Stay tuned for an update after the House vote and a call-to-action to move a real PPP fix through the Senate. Thank you for fighting for the future of the restaurant industry!
5/26/20 Interim Guidance on PPP Loan Forgiveness- Efforts continue to advocate for better terms for PPP Loan calculations and forgiveness. Recent loan forgiveness guidance interim final rule (IFR) from the Small Business Administration (SBA) and Department of Treasury reaffirms our commitment to bipartisan legislation from Congress to fix the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The IFR did not:
We are also identifying another issue that may be problematic for restaurants. In cases when an employee declines an employer‘s rehire offer, the employer has previously been granted de minimis exemptions from PPP loan forgiveness reductions. However, the IFR requires employers to inform the State Unemployment Insurance agency of the employee's "rejected offer of reemployment within 30 days" of the rejection (pages 14 – 15). This may be a significant new challenge for employers that must manage new forms for their respective state reports, document and transmit these reports to achieve loan forgiveness, all while maintaining relationships with former employees. At an undisclosed time, the SBA will detail how borrowers will report information concerning rejected rehire offers to state unemployment insurance offices.
The IFR clarified that a full-time equivalent (FTE) employee is one who works 40 hours or more, on average, each week (pages 16 – 18). For forgivable payroll expenses, there are also two options to include part-time employees within an FTE count: one that calculates a ratio from 40 hours (30 hours worked would represent 0.75 FTE) and a second that allows each part-time employee to be counted as 0.5 FTE.
We plan to comment on this IFR, and recommendations are welcomed. Please reach out to us if you have recommendations or comments in response.
5/26/20 Liability Protection- One of the requests made by the ORA to the state legislature was some protection from frivolous lawsuits related to alleged exposure to Covid-19 in your business. The legislature listened to our concerns and passed SB 1946 to provide that protection. It was signed by the Governor and is now law. You can read the text of the bill here.
5/22/20 Governor Approves SB 1928 - Alcohol to Go- Yesterday, Governor Stitt signed SB 1928 to make permanent the emergency rule now in effect that allows restaurants to sell wine and beer to go in original sealed containers. Spirits to go and mixed drinks are still not allowed by this legislation. Because SB 1928 contained an emergency clause, it became effective immediately upon the Governor's signature. ORA is working with the ABLE Commission on the rules that will be adopted to implement this permanent statutory change. As a reminder, the 13.5% mixed beverage tax does not apply to wine and beer to go since it is not consumed on-premises. The only tax applied to beer and wine to go is the state and local sales tax. Other details of the bill include:
SB 1928 would add to Oklahoma law the following: Allow retail spirit licensees to sell curbside and deliver alcoholic beverages, including beer, wine and spirits in sealed original containers to consumers aged 21 and older. Allow small brewers and small-farm wineries licensed by ABLE to sell curbside-only alcoholic beverages they produced in sealed original containers to consumers aged 21 and older. Allow restaurants, bars and clubs holding mixed beverage, beer and wine, or caterer/mixed beverage licenses issued by ABLE to sell curbside and delivery-only closed packages of beer and wine to consumers aged 21 and older. Allow grocery and convenience stores holding a retail beer and/or wine license issued by ABLE to sell curbside and deliver original sealed containers of beer and/or wine to consumers ages 21 and older. Third-party vendors are still not authorized to make alcohol deliveries. Only employees of ABLE-approved licensees. However, payment for alcoholic beverage product delivery may be made by cash, check, transportable credit and debit card processors, and advance online payment methods, an update from the temporary guidance.
5/20/20 State Health Department Extends Deadline for Renewal of Licenses- The State Health Department has passed an emergency rule extending the deadlines for state license renewals and has waived the penalties for non-renewal. The emergency rule will remain in effect during the duration of the declared emergency from the Governor, and for 14 days after the end of the state-wide emergency. You can read the summary of the State Health Department emergency rule here.
5/19/20 The Inside Scoop: Health Department & ABLE Regulations During Recovery- We hope you joined us this morning for the ORA for an informational session hosted by Collin Graham, Director of Membership of the ORA and Patti Colley, Chief Strategy Officer of the ORA. In this zoom session, Collin shared guidelines and recommended practices surrounding reopening guidance from the health department and ABLE regulations. Some of the issues examined the responsibilities of employee PPE, occupancy regulations, sanitation, social distancing practices, guidelines for self-serve stations as well as the calls most often received by the ORA from the dining public. You can also learn participate in the "Oklahoma Restaurant Promise." Click here to view the video recording of today's webinar.
5/18/20 SBA and Treasury Release Paycheck Protection Program Loan Forgiveness Application- Last Friday, the U.S. Small Business Administration, in consultation with the U.S Department of the Treasury, released the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loan Forgiveness Application and detailed instructions for the application. The form and instructions inform borrowers how to apply for forgiveness of their PPP loans, consistent with the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). SBA will also soon issue regulations and guidance to further assist borrowers as they complete their applications. The form and instructions include several measures to reduce compliance burdens and simplify the process for borrowers, including:
Addition of a new exemption from the loan forgiveness reduction for borrowers who have made a good-faith, written offer to rehire workers that was declined
The PPP was created by the CARES Act to provide forgivable loans to eligible small businesses to keep American workers on the payroll during the COVID-19 pandemic. The documents released will help small businesses seek forgiveness at the conclusion of the eight-week covered period, which begins with the disbursement of their loans. Click here to view the application and instructions.
5/18/20 SB 1928 Bill Status- SB 1928 recently won full House and Senate approval and heads to the governor for consideration. If signed by the Governor, SB 1928 would add to Oklahoma law the following:
Third-party vendors are still not authorized to make alcohol deliveries. Only employees of ABLE-approved licensees. However, payment for alcoholic beverage product delivery may be made by cash, check, transportable credit and debit card processors, and advance online payment methods, an update from the temporary guidance. Just today, the National Restaurant Association reported that SBA and the Treasury will be issuing additional guidance on the Loan Forgiveness Applications. As soon as that is available, ORA will share with you.
5/15/20 Postponed: Virtual Town Hall Meeting with 5th District Congresswoman Kendra Horn- As of today, May 15th, cities have released their Phase 2 guidances. Attached are several guidances and executive orders based on city health departments and city mayors. We will include more as they are released:
*Note: This is the most up-to-date information available at the time this email was sent. Some information may have changed since then, so we encourage you to check other sources as well.
5/15/20 Postponed: Virtual Town Hall Meeting with 5th District Congresswoman Kendra Horn- The Virtual Town Hall Meeting this morning with Congresswoman Kendra Horn at 9:30 a.m. (CDT) has postponed until further notice. We will update you once it has been rescheduled. We appreciate your patience!
5/14/20 HEROES Act- House Democrats unveiled their Phase Four response to the COVID-19 pandemic known as the HEROES Act. The measure has provisions that are very important to our industry, including our approach to improving the PPP program, as well as provisions that will be more challenging for us, like the extension of enhanced unemployment, extension of emergency paid-sick leave/FMLA. The bill will more than likely pass this Friday. We will keep you updated once we learn more. You can view the National Restaurant Association Analysis of the proposed Phase Four Bill by clicking here.
5/14/20 Wine and Beer To-Go- The Legislature is working today and tomorrow on several policy bills with the hope of adjourning for the year by the end of the day tomorrow. One of the bills making its way through the legislative process is SB 1928. If passed and signed by the Governor, this bill would make permanent the ability of restaurants with the proper license to sell beer and wine in original sealed packaging to go. It would also allow the licensee's employees who are also licensed to serve beer and wine to deliver those products when they are also delivering a carry out meal. Third party delivery services would not be allowed to deliver alcohol from the restaurants. The ORA is actively working on SB 1928 and will inform you on the final outcome in future updates. This bill would be a great addition for mixed beverage, caterer/mixed beverage and beer and wine licensees by making permanent what is allowed now under the temporary Emergency ABLE rules allowing beer and wine to-go.
5/14/20 The Inside Scoop: Health Department & ABLE Regulations During Recovery- Join ORA for an informational session on Tuesday, May 19th at 10:00 am hosted by Collin Graham, Director of Membership of the ORA. In this zoom session, Collin is excited to share his vast knowledge of guidelines and recommended practices surrounding reopening guidance from health department and ABLE regulations. Some of the topics discussed will include occupancy maximums for bars; safety and social distancing practices, guidelines for self-serve stations, public perception of service and sanitation, and how your restaurant can participate in the "Oklahoma Restaurant Promise." Register here.
5/14/20 Oklahoma Restaurant Operator Roundtable- We hope you were able to join us this morning for the Oklahoma Restaurant Operator Roundtable. Led by two of Oklahoma's leading restaurant operators, we had a great discussion about everything going on on in our industry during this unprecedented time. Best practices were shared on reopening, as well as guidance through issues such as PPP loans, food supplies, alcohol sales and other subjects. Click here to watch the recording from the meeting.
5/13/20 FDA: Best Practices Checklist for Reopening Restaurants- FDA has provided a food safety reopening checklist for previously closed restaurants or those that have been open with limited service to review. This checklist addresses key food safety practices for food establishments to consider. Click here to view the most up-to-date checklist.
5/13/20 ORA Virtual Town Hall Meeting- We hope you joined us this morning for the virtual town hall with Sean Kennedy, Executive Vice President of Public Affairs at the National Restaurant Association. Sean Kennedy provided us with an assessment of recovery efforts from Congress, as well as details on the recovery efforts from Washington. You can listen to the recording of the Town Hall Meeting by clicking here.
5/11/20 PPP Updates- There are several proposals being discussed for PPP changes. Senator Lankford was part of bi-partisan group of Senators asking for a reduction in the portion used for payroll last week: You can see his press release on those efforts here. In addition to this ask, a lengthening of the timeline to 12 weeks is being considered. There's also been a proposal to start the eight-week period when a business is allowed to re-open without restriction as opposed to the date the funds are received. There is also discussion of an effort to push the forgiveness and loan timeline back to December 31st of this year. There's a lot on the table right now. However, the easier technical fixes - pushing to 12 weeks, cutting the percentage on payroll - have all been held up in negotiations with several parties in D.C. Based on an interview Secretary Mnuchin gave this morning that seems to be changing:
Sec. Mnuchin discussed restaurants in a CNBC interview this morning and for the first time, acknowledged that changes need to be made so restaurants can use the money. Restaurants across the country are finding that reopening hasn‘t brought sales back to levels from before the pandemic, as customers remain skittish and social distancing guidelines limit the number of diners who can sit-in for meals.
Restaurant Stabilization Fund Talks
Later this week, we anticipate a summary on the Restaurant Stabilization Fund to be released. The effort is being led by a Congressman from Portland and a yet-to-be-named Senator. Both are working on bills that would provide some kind of revenue replacement through the end of the year. We will keep you posted as additional information is available on these efforts in Washington, D.C.
5/8/20 Register for the ORA Town Hall Meeting Wed, May 13 - 10:00 am CDT- Join us for a virtual town hall with Sean Kennedy, Executive Vice President of Public Affairs at the National Restaurant Association, who on Wed, May 13 - 10:00 am CDT, will provide our members an assessment of recovery efforts from Congress, discuss advocacy efforts on behalf of the National Restaurant Association and State Restaurant Associations, tell you how you can personally advocate to make relief programs more usable for our industry, and detail the road ahead for recovery efforts from Washington. You can register here for the Town Hall Meeting.
5/8/20 Senator Lankford Asks Treasury, SBA to Adjust PPP Loan Forgiveness- Senator Lankford joined a group of Senators to send a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and Administrator of the Small Business Administration (SBA), Jovita Carranza, urging changes to the loan forgiveness criteria of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans to help restaurants. Specifically, the Senators recommended the loan forgiveness requirement that 75% of the loan be spent on payroll (with 25% allowed to be spent on other expenses), be reduced to 50% or lower. You can view the press release here. We will keep you updated when more information arises.
5/8/20 Virtual Town Hall Meeting with 5th District Congresswoman Kendra Horn- Please join us as we host a zoom meeting with Congresswoman Kendra Horn next Friday on May 15th at 9:30 a.m. (CDT). Congresswoman Horn will update us on efforts in Washington D.C. to provide relief and recovery to our industry. Click here to join the Town Hall Meeting next Friday.
5/8/20 Bar Guidance- Attached is the official version of the OSDH guidelines for opening bars, taverns and night clubs, which will occur in Phase Two (May 15), pending achievement of the data points according to the Governor's announcement. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to reach out to us.
5/4/20 U.S. Treasury Department Releases New Guidance on PPP- We have heard from many operators on the challenges to comply with PPP rehiring mandates in an era of enhanced unemployment benefits. In a series of filings with the government, the hospitality industry has continuously urged the U.S. Treasury Department to fully utilize its "de minimis" exemption authority under the CARES Act to prevent employers from being penalized. SBA and Treasury intend to issue a final rule excluding laid-off employees whom the borrower offered to rehire (for the same salary/wages and same number of hours) from the CARES Act‘s loan forgiveness reduction calculation. (To qualify for this exception, the borrower must have made a good faith, written offer of rehire and the employee‘s rejection of that offer must be documented by the borrower.) Employees and employers should be aware that employees who reject offers of re-employment may forfeit eligibility for continued unemployment compensation.
We are also seeking guidance on a number of other issues, including Calculating FTEs, using aggregate wages vs average wages, forgiveness of eligible expenses from a PPP loan, etc. Click here to read the most up-to-date list of FAQs for PPP loans. We will update you as soon as we learn more.
5/1/20 IRS: Employee Retention Credit (ERC)- Recently, the IRS issued guidance on the Employee Retention Credit (ERC) in the form of 94 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). Of particular note for our members are FAQ 15 which stipulates that an employer cannot get a PPP loan and use the ERC and FAQ 83 which states that employers cannot claim the ERC and the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC). We also want flag FAQ 65 which says that employers with more than 100 employees cannot utilize the ERC for health benefits unless the employers also pay monetary wages. FAQ 65 is clearly problematic for many operators who have continued to cover their furloughed employees health benefits. We have heard that a number of Congressional offices do not agree with the IRS interpretation and we expect these concerns to be raised with the Administration.
4/30/20 New COVID-19 Food Establishment Reopening Guidance for Oklahoma Restaurants- The Oklahoma State Department of Health today has released itsupdated COVID-19 Food Establishment Reopening Guidance.Regulations in Spanish are available here. These reopening guidelines were previously listed on the state's website, howeverhave been revised. The ORA was instrumental in providing input to state officials in order to help restaurants reopen within Governor Kevin Stitt's multi-phase reopening plan. If you have questions, please don't hesitate toreach out to us.
Some cities have created their own guidances or mandates. Here are several other reopening guidances and executive orders based on city health departments and city mayors. We will include more as they are released:
4/29/20 Free Tabletop Displays- If you‘re a restaurant that‘s opening your doors soon, you may want to print these free tabletop displays for your tables. These can be used for closed-off areas due to social distancing restrictions, or to demonstrate to your customers that you sanitized your tables after each use. We would highly recommend placing them in inserts to easily clean, or print them for single use-only.
4/28/20 Oklahoma Restaurant Promise- The ORA is proud to announce its Oklahoma Restaurant Promise (ORP) Campaign. The objective of the ORP is to help restaurants instill confidence with customers as they choose to return to dine-in service at Oklahoma restaurant establishments. The Promise communicates your restaurant's pledge to the safety of your staff and customers, by each following the Promises. To participate in the campaign,please readand comply with the six Oklahoma Restaurant Promise assurances to customers, print the document, and displayit at your restaurant entrances to demonstrate to your customers the precautions you are taking to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
4/27/20 Post-COVID-19: Restock Recovery for Operators- Supply Chain Challenges-As many of you already know, all points along the supply chain have been disrupted, at varying levels from growers and processors to manufacturers and distributors. Many things will be rebound quickly, but other areas will likely take weeks or months to regain balance. Click here to see what industry suppliers have to say about what to expect as the recovery process begins.
4/24/20 Re-Opening Information-Earlier today, Tulsa Mayor GT Bynum and Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt both announced they would be allowing restaurants to re-open on May 1 for those who choose to do so. We have heard from several operators who are choosing to wait to re-open for various reasons. We realize restaurants need reopening guidelines and to that end, the ORA is working very closely with the State Health Department and the Health Departments in Oklahoma City and Tulsa to agree on what those guidelines will look like. We have been working with the Health Departments for the past several days and should have guidelines ready for distribution to the industry the first of next week. We know you need then now and we will get them to you as soon as possible. If you have questions, please reach out to Jim Hopper at email@example.com
4/24/20 Zoom Meeting with Congressman Hern-We hope you were able to join the meeting this morning with 1st District Congressman Hern. You can access the recording of the meeting here. The Congressman was able to share his unique perspective of what the Congress is working on for relief for our industry. As a long-time McDonald's franchisee, Congressman Hern knows much about the devastating impact this is having on our industry. We thank him for meeting with us and sharing what will be happening next as Congress addresses the devastation of this pandemic.
4/21/20 Just Announced! The Oklahoma Bounce Back Plan-Governor Stitt just announced the new Oklahoma Bounce Back Plan at a press conference this afternoon. Oklahoma will begin implementing a three-phased approach to open Oklahoma‘s economy back up starting this Friday, April 24th with some businesses being allowed to open. The Governor announced that restaurants who choose to do so may reopen for inside dining on May 1st. The Oklahoma Restaurant Association is working with health authorities and other officials to have a document available for our industry that shares best practices and other guidelines for reopening restaurants. We are working quickly to have this guidance available as soon as possible and will share it in these updates and elsewhere as soon as health officials have provided their guidance. The statewide plan involves slowly opening up all businesses through June 1st of this year. Click here to read the full outline of the Oklahoma Bounce Back Plan.
4/21/20 Zoom Meeting with Congressman Kevin Hern: Friday April 24-Please join us as we host a zoom meeting with OK First District Congressman Kevin Hern on Friday, April 24th at 9:00 a.m. (CDT). As many of you know, Congressman Hern is also a restaurateur and a long-time franchisee of McDonald's. Congressman Hern will bring a restaurant perspective and provide information on further steps Congress is taking to help us. Click here to join the meeting.
4/20/20 Paid Leave under the FFCRA: Employer Requirements and Resources-The U.S. Department of Labor Wage & Hour Division will be hosting a free webinar this Thursday, April 23rd, from 1:30-3:30 (CDT) regarding paid leave and its requirements. This webinar will help employers understand their obligations under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and direct them to resources that will assist in achieving compliance. FFCRA requires certain employers to provide their employees with paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. To register, click here.
4/20/20 Survey Results: COVID-19's Devastating Impact on Restaurants-Thank you for participating in our survey, as well as the National Restaurant Association Survey sharing the devastating impact COVID-19 is having on your business. Survey data was gathered from over 6,500 operators nationwide. The results are stark:
Assuming a gradual reopening of the economy, we forecast sustained losses of $240 billion for restaurants by the end of the year. We are using these results as an alarm call for Congress to provide a relief package that is specifically designed for our industry. The NRA has crafted an industry Blueprint for Recovery, which proposes the creation of a $240B Restaurant and Foodservice Industry Recovery Fund. The document is comprehensive in scope, containing additional initiatives that would allow us to weather this storm.
Thank you again for participating. This data is invaluable as we continue to advocate with Congress and with our Oklahoma elected officials. You can view the results of the Oklahoma survey here, as well as more information on the national results.
4/17/20 National Guidelines for Reopening the Economy-Yesterday, the President presented a plan for how the economy can reopen in phases, including restaurants and bars. You can view the guidelines for reopening here. We are working with Governor Stitt and local authorities, including health officials, on how restaurants will be allowed to reopen in Oklahoma. Although the exact timing is not yet known, we have stressed the importance of making sure the guidelines for our industry to reopen in Oklahoma are implemented on a state-wide basis so every part of our state is working from the same rules. We have also told the Governor that our industry will need some "ramp-up" time from when the announcement is made to when we are able to serve our guests. We will keep you posted as these developments rapidly evolve.
4/17/20 Restaurant Scam To Be Aware Of-The OKC-County Health Department has informed us that some restaurants are receiving fraudulent phone calls from an individual claiming to be a health inspector asking for the restaurant to provide a credit card number and payment for their license over the phone. Please be aware that health inspectors will remind you of your expiration date, but they will never ask for credit card numbers or demand payment by phone or at the time of inspection. Also, whenever an inspector visits or calls your restaurant they will send your inspection report by email once the phone conversation or inspection is completed.
4/16/20 New PPP Guidance from Department of Treasury-The Department of Treasury releasedadditional guidance on the SBA/PPP programwhich continues to slowly answer our questions and clarify concerns. On Question 8 regarding paid sick leave, Question 20 on when the PPP proceeds have to be utilized, Question 23 on the affiliation rules and franchisees (which is problematic and will need to be addressed by Treasury/SBA) and Question 24 on the waiving of rules under the NAICS Code 72 (for hotels and restaurants) and also includes three separate examples of how Treasury is interpreting the statutory language. Pleasereach out to usif you have any questions.
4/15/20 Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Report-As part of the CARES Act, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) aims to help you keep your people employed and on payroll. As a reminder, eligible small businesses can borrow up to 250% of their average monthly payroll, up to a total of $10 million in order to sustain their business. As part of the application for this loan, companies must provide their lenders with their average monthly payroll costs. Attached is a report to show you how much our state and industry as a whole has had in approved loans and dollar amount. Please reach out to us if you have any questions.
4/14/20 Next Steps for the Future-Today, at the request of Governor Stitt, several Board members met with him to discuss timing and appropriate steps our industry needs to take to reopen in-house dining when the timing is right. There are many moving parts and a lot of considerations to take into account so our employees will be protected, the dining public will be protected, and have the confidence they need to know that our restaurants are a very safe place to once again enjoy dining out. There was a good deal of helpful discussion. Although the timing of reopening our industry has not yet been determined, the Governor has asked the ORA and our members to provide him with guidance on how the reopening should be handled and what it would look like. We will be providing that input very soon, per his request. Among other things, we asked the Governor to insure that any rules on reopening be applied state-wide in every restaurant. We told the Governor this would be important for the confidence of our employees and the dining public. If you have thoughts or recommendations you want us to share with the Governor, we would love to hear from you. Please email your thoughts to Jim Hopper at firstname.lastname@example.org. We'll keep you posted on this issue as it develops.
4/13/20 Important Survey: How is COVID-19 Impacting Restaurants?-The National Restaurant Association Research Group developed a new survey designed to collect data that will inform our ongoing advocacy activities. Please take a few minutes to complete this survey.
4/13/20 FREE ServSafe Food Handler Course-Last week, the National Restaurant Association and the ServSafe team launched two new training videos that you can view here. The ServSafe Food Handler training is also free through April 30, 2020. It‘s a basic, line-level employee training program that is 100% online. It is temporarily being accepted while the ServSafe Managers Certification course and exam are unavailable. People who complete a learning suite are prepared to take the proctored exam to complete certification. We encourage you to pass this opportunity on to your employees!
4/10/20 Tell Congress: Support Bipartisan Efforts to Improve Relief Efforts and To Provide Additional Funding-Congress has created new loan programs to help small businesses, but restaurant owners are finding that they are not being implemented in a way that provides the relief they need now. Make your voice heard so that restaurants can survive today and once again thrive in the future. Click here to send an email to Congress.
4/9/20 Quick Poll - Oklahoma Restaurants and COVID-19 Impact-In our continuing efforts to tell the story of how COVID-19 has affected Oklahoma's restaurant industry, we need your help. This quick poll will enable ORA to share with our Governor and legislative leaders the true story of this impact. Please take a moment to complete this survey. We will not share your proprietary information.
4/9/20 Tulsa Resilience and Recovery Fund-In partnership with Tulsa Economic Development Corporation (TEDC), the City of Tulsa is dedicating $1.1 million in funds for zero-interest loans to provide financial assistance to small business owners and entrepreneurs affected by COVID-19. TEDC will begin accepting loan applications from local businesses immediately. To qualify as a small business, applicants must have fewer than 50 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees, have 2019 revenues that did not exceed $5,000,000 and have experienced a decrease in revenue of at least 25 percent between February and March 2020 due to COVID-19. Go to Tulsa Responds website for FAQ and more information.
4/8/20 Updated Employer Information on Phase II, Employer Responsibility for Sick Leave and FMLA Payments-The U.S. Department of Labor through its Wage and Hour Division issued implementing regulations on April 1, which detail employer and employee obligations, as well as an exemption available to qualifying small employers with fewer than 50 employees. Click here to view key aspects of the Department‘s regulations.
4/7/20 Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act-Please click here for the most recent summary and new FAQ document of the CARES Act.
4/7/20 FDA Provides Flexibility on Menu Labeling Requirements for Chains-The FDA released a guidance document to provide temporary flexibility to chain restaurants and similar retail food establishments currently required to provide nutrition information, including calories, on menus and menu boards. FDA regulations require that restaurants with 20 or more locations are required to provide nutrition information for standard menu items on menus. This policy change will remain in effect only for the duration of the public health emergency.
4/6/20 Help the ORA Measure COVID-19 Impact on Restaurants-In our continuing efforts to tell the story of how Covid-19 has affected Oklahoma‘s restaurant industry in Oklahoma, we need your help. This short survey will enable ORA to share with our Governor and legislative leaders the true story of this impact. Please take a moment to complete this survey. We will update it each week and show the cumulative effect of this pandemic. We will not share your proprietary information with anyone.
4/6/20 Letters to the National Governors Association and U.S. Conference of Mayors-Last week, letters were sent to the National Governors Association and the U.S. Conference of Mayors outlining the impact of COVID-19 on the restaurant industry and steps that state and local leaders can take to begin to mitigate the impacts on the industry. Attached are both of those letters here. We encourage you to share them with other ORA members, as well as our state‘s leaders.
4/6/20 Small Business Continuity Program-Starting today, OKC business owners may go to this website to apply for COVID-19 disaster relief funds from the City of Oklahoma City‘s Small Business Continuity Program. The goal of this new program is to quickly put funding into the hands of small business owners to help retain jobs during this unstable time. The need for the program was identified by a partnership of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, the Alliance for Economic Development of Oklahoma City and the City of Oklahoma City and will be implemented in partnership with private businesses that have stepped forward to help in this time of need. Click here to apply.
4/6/20 A Guide to the Different SBA Loans Available -There are multiple loan programs available and each one meets a different need. Please find links below to these relief programs, including application forms:
4/3/20 Step-By-Step Guide To COVID-19-Related Tax Credits For Paid Leave Here is a linkto the slides from yesterday's webinar by the NRA. It included highlights regarding the document the Internal Revenue Service provided to assist companies with the process of defraying the costs of paid sick leave required under the 'Families First' Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). It also provided information on what the IRS needs from employees in order for businesses to be eligible for the FFCRA tax credits. Learnmore by clicking here.
4/2/20 Unemployment Insurance: How to Apply
The CARES Act allows for both self-employed and unemployed individuals to apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. We understand that filing for unemployment benefits is a big process, and filing for unemployment insurance is even more of a process.Attachedis a fact sheet for guidance. Pleasereach out to usif you have any questions or need further assistance.
4/1/20 SBA "PPP" GuidelinesReleased
Attachedare the first "official" guidelines released by the SBA. We ask that you look these over and get in touch with your financial institution. Please note, you can't apply untilApril 3rd. The Treasury Department is still shaping some of the rules, but this gives you a good idea of how it's going to work. Pleasecontact usif you need further assistance.
Assistance for Small Businesses
The Paycheck Protection Program prioritizes millions of Americans employed by small businesses by authorizing up to $349 billion toward job retention and certain other expenses. Small businesses and eligible nonprofit organizations, Veterans organizations, and Tribal businesses described in the Small Business Act, as well as individuals who are
self-employed or are independent contractors, are eligible if they also meet program size standards.
CARES Act: An Update The National Restaurant Association has developed a CARES Act "Frequently Asked Questions document for your use foundhere. Please feel free toreach out to usif you have further questions.3/27/20 Audio file from Senator JamesLankford Call