Mass Restaurant Assc. COVID-19 Daily Update March 23, 2020

March 23, 2020
Massachusetts Restaurant Association
Governor Charlie Baker Orders All Non-Essential Businesses to Cease In-Person Operation
Today, Governor Charlie Baker issued an emergency order requiring all businesses and organizations that do not provide “COVID-19 Essential Services” to close their physical workplaces and facilities to workers, customers and the public as of Tuesday, March 24th at noon until Tuesday, April 7th at noon.
Restaurants are considered essential service provides. Restaurants, bars, and other establishments that sell food and beverage products to the public are encouraged to continue to offer food for take-out and by delivery.
Operators should ensure they are promoting social distancing in their operations for all take-out and delivery orders. Best practices suggest implementing a “at the curb” pickup option. This will minimize interactions between customers, staff and other patrons waiting for their order.
On-premises consumption of food or drink remains prohibited.
Washington DC
The effective date of COVID-2 (paid leave for workers and tax credits for small and midsize employers) is April 2, 2020 . 
  • We are expecting the U.S. Department of Labor to start offering preliminary guidance this week on many of the ambiguous provisions in need of clarification.
  • The regulations are likely to come out just before the effective date, so this preliminary guidance will be of great value. 
  • Additionally, we are advised that the Department is adopting a non-enforcement period for good-faith employers during the first 30 days after the law takes effect. This means that the Department will not bring an enforcement action against good-faith employers during the 30-day period so that employers can come into compliance.
  • The IRS is going to allow for expedited advance of the payroll tax credits and will be submitting a streamlined claim for that will be released sometime this week.
Congress has yet to come to an agreement on COVID - Phase 3. When passed this will provide some restaurant specific relief including:
  • The creation of a $349B fund for small businesses (500 or fewer employees; broken down by location for the restaurant/hotel industries) through SBA loans. Max loan is 2.5 times your monthly payroll for the preceding year or $10M, whichever is lower.
  • Loans are forgiven for the amount you use them for payroll for February 15 through June 30, 2020.
  • Loans go through SBA, but the “credit elsewhere” test is removed.
  • No collateral required
Talks continue and the National Restaurant Association is working with Republicans and Democrats in both chambers of Congress to press forward with a comprehensive deal.
Best Practices for maximizing take-out and delivery:
5 Tips to promote Off Premise Through Social Media   - Tips via @ imageunlimited
  • Promote across platforms. Promote Often. Promote 1-3 Hours before each projected guest meal period.
  • Use both stories and static posts. Stories have a better chance of being seen in the moment, static posts have a better chance of overall search if you use proper hashtags.
  •  Use Hashtags properly. There are numerous hashtags being used in the current environment, find them all and use as many as possible (you can also hide hashtags in IG stories if you make the text the same color as the background, this will keep your posts from looking like a racecar). Also, think regionally. #Boston, #BostonRestaurants #BostonTakeout put your mind in the mind of the customer if they are searching. Or, think how they will discover you.
  • Promote! While funds are tight, allocating even a small amount to your social spends will give you a better chance at discovery. It is better to promote daily in small amounts with each new post. Also tag media outlets! They are seeking content and creating lists., Bostonmagazine, @Diningplaybook, etc. Try tagging influencers as well!
  • Be creative! Don’t hide behind a brand. Shoot real video of you and your staff, speak directly to your customers and motivate with new options and deals if possible. Everyone is feeling the effects of this and a little personality and fiscal ease can go a long way when a customer is deciding.
5 Tips to maximize off premises operations – Tips via 99 Restaurants
  • Tighten up your to go menu – edit for best traveled meals and ease of use. 99 To Go Order Pad
  • Use appropriate staffing levels for projected sales and adjust with history. 99 Schedule Guidelines Checklist
  • Establish dedicated and well-defined parking spaces for Curb Side to go pickup
  • Let people know that you are open for business, social media, flags, sings, etc.
  • Offer up family meal deals
City of Boston Efforts to promote Open Restaurant Listings
Please ask your restaurants to sign up for our online open restaurant guide. Restaurant registry at the end of this page:  Open Restaurant Listing Page