• 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.
• 6/25/20 A 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 its updated COVID-19 Food Establishment Reopening Guidance. Regulations in Spanish are available here. These reopening guidelines were previously listed on the state's website, however have 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 to reach 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 read and comply with the six Oklahoma Restaurant Promise assurances to customers, print the document, and display it 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
• 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 released additional guidance on the SBA/PPP program which 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. Please reach out to us if 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 email@example.com. 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 link to 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. Learn more 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. Attached is a fact sheet for guidance. Please reach out to us if you have any questions or need further assistance.
• 4/1/20 • SBA "PPP" Guidelines Released
Attached are 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 until April 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. Please contact us if 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 found here. Please feel free to reach out to us if you have further questions.• 3/27/20 • Audio file from Senator James Lankford Call