Communicate with Local Authorities for Reopening Guidelines

By Massachusetts Restaurant Association May 6, 2020
Start to communicate with local officials
Massachusetts has not released any plans yet regarding what re-open will look like.  However, we have reviewed numerous plans from other states that have begun the re-open process. One common theme that keeps reoccurring is maximizing available outdoor dining space. Some states have gone as far as only allowing outdoor dining.
Operators have already been thinking about how to maximize outdoor dining opportunities, including patios and parking lots where available. In Massachusetts, we know that this is a two-step process as both local officials and the ABCC need to approve any change in premises.   The MRA has advocated that   municipalities should be as flexible as possible allowing restaurants to expand their footprints, this includes relaxing local approval process and re-configuring outdoor space such as sidewalks, streets and neighboring spaces.
As an industry, we do not have to wait for these rules to be written. Operators should begin contacting their local licensing authorities to determine what steps would be required to alter the existing footprint. Many municipalities have expressed a desire to be flexible and want to work with their licensed establishments to get them up and running. By starting that process now, operators can potentially expedite the approval process and avoid any potential logjam that comes with written rules.
ServeSafe Reopen Guidance
The National Restaurant Association released  guidance  for reopening restaurants, which provides a basic summary of recommended practices that can be used to help mitigate exposure to the COVID-19 virus. The document is meant to be used in conjunction with instruction operators receive from authorities during their reopening phase-in. 

The guidance focuses on food safety, cleaning and sanitizing, employee health monitoring and personal hygiene, and social distancing. Each section includes a list of actionable items an operation should consider as it evaluates its safety procedures. 
It builds on already established best practices and available requirements that address specific health and safety concerns related to the spread of COVID-19. Included in the document are highlights of the recently released Food and Drug Administration's  "Best Practices for Retail Food Stores, Restaurants, and Food Pick-Up/Delivery Services During the COVID-19 Pandemic."  
Webinar on Business Interruption Insurance Claims
Tune in Wednesday, May 13 at 4:00 p.m. EDT, to find out how your business interruption insurance is playing out. As the restaurant and foodservice industry continues to grapple with the impact of COVID-19 and government shut-down orders, many have sought business interruption coverage under commercial property insurance policies. To date, insurers have routinely refused to pay these claims. Many policyholders have sued, and many more are considering whether to take legal action. Angelo Amador, executive director of the Restaurant Law Center, with partners at Jenner & Block LLP, will walk through legal and practical considerations around business interruption claims and what they mean for the restaurant and foodservice industry.
They will discuss:
  • Key policy provisions and exclusions, and how they may vary across policies;
  • Critical legal questions related to coverage, including whether physical loss or damage is required, a virus exclusion applies, and civil authority coverage is triggered;
  • Current state of litigation, including pending federal and state class actions across the country and applications to consolidate and coordinate the cases through a federal “multidistrict litigation”;
  • Important practical considerations in deciding what your company should do.