MRA Mass Restaurant Recovery Update

November 19, 2020
Massachusetts Restaurant Association
Update: Current status as we continue to deal with this second surge
Dear Members,

Since last week, we have had continuing conversations with the Governor’s office regarding how to tweak his Executive Order – we won the first concession on 9:30 to 10:00 for guests in the restaurant, and we were making progress on an extension until 11:00 for at least TH/FR/SA. With the recent surge, it appears we will not hear back on this request until after Thanksgiving.
The Governor continues to say publicly, that a second shutdown is not being considered. In fact, at the end of last week, the Secretary of Health and Human Services (de facto head of public health for the Commonwealth), reiterated that restaurants were doing their part and cited a 97% compliance rate based on continuous industry inspections. 
Nationally, in the last week: Chicago, Oregon, New Mexico, California, Washington, Michigan, Philadelphia and St. Louis have made announcements to shut indoor dining and/or roll back to phase 1.
We continue to hammer home the point that restaurants are not the problem, especially here in MA. On Tuesday, we launched the industry petition. If you have not signed it, it can be found here: Restaurants are not the problem
We believe that the Massachusetts officials do not want to take further and far more restrictive actions at this point in time, but they are also deeply concerned with the rapid spread. There is much concern about Thanksgiving and what will impacts that will have on positive and hospitalization rates.
The city of Boston recognizes that the Governor's stay at home orders and operating restrictions impacted Boston restaurants more significantly than suburban areas due to a later dining pattern in Boston. As the Mayor said yesterday, Boston’s positive rate remains significantly higher than the state average. We have also had numerous conversations with the Mayor.
We are aware that other municipalities are closely looking at their individual numbers. We have been aggressively sharing the state data that regulated restaurants are not the problems. The city of Pittsfield closed indoor dining last week, citing large increases of positive cases that were attributed to an illegal Halloween party that led to a significant number of positive cases.
Later on today Rhode Island will announce a number of measures, but indoor dining is expected to remain permitted, although possibly at a reduced capacity.
While some of this information has been reported, we did not want to assume that you have seen all or even some of it.  We continue to advocate every day on your behalf and will keep you up to speed as information becomes available. 
State Budget
3rd party delivery "Ghosting" - Late last night, the state Senate adopted an amendment that would require 3rd party delivery companies to get a restaurant's written permission before using a likeness, trademark, or other intellectual property.
  • This has long been an issue for restaurant owners, as customers generally are not aware of this bait and switch and think that they are patronizing the operator's website.
  • We will be working with the state legislature to try to ensure that this language gets included in the final version of the state budget and signed into law.
National Restaurant Association
Letter to National Governors Association and US Conference of Mayors to:
"Stop using restaurants as a scapegoat for reflexive shutdowns"
The letter noted that from the outset of the pandemic, restaurants have built upon existing safe operating practices by adding new and enhanced protocols designed to keep guests and employees safe.
Employee health checks, hand hygiene, and surface cleaning and sanitizing were already in place, and the Association’s COVID-19 Safe Operating Guidance enhanced these practices to require face coverings for staff, request face coverings for guests, add more frequent hand sanitizing, provide guests with hand sanitizers, and increase frequency of cleaning and sanitizing high-touch surfaces. Restaurants also updated their floorplans to ensure social distancing of at least six feet between guests.
As the scientific research behind COVID-19 continues to develop, our food safety team has collaborated with regulatory authorities across the country to establish industry best practices rooted in science. To date, we have not found any systemic outbreaks of COVID-19 from the hundreds of thousands of restaurants around the country that operate within the Association’s guidance and follow local public health and safety regulations.
Election review/preview of 2021
When: Monday, November 23rd, 2020
Title: Understanding the 2020 Elections and What Lies Ahead for Restaurants
Description: Get the latest analysis from the National Association’s Government Affairs team on the recent elections, and what the coming lame duck and 2021-2022 Congressional Sessions mean for restaurants. We’ll also share a preview of what is to come as President-elect Biden assumes office.
Three time slots available