The City of New Orleans today announced that bars, breweries and adult live entertainment venues in Orleans Parish must close indoor facilities effective at 11 p.m. this evening, as required by the State of Louisiana emergency order. In addition, the State order forbids alcohol sales at indoor sporting events.
The Louisiana Department of Health has reported the weekly COVID-19 positive case rate to be 5.5% for Orleans Parish, marking the second consecutive week test positivity has been above 5%. Per the State’s guidelines, bars, breweries and indoor sporting events must cease indoor alcohol service and sales in parishes whose positive case rate exceeds 5% two weeks in a row. That rule will go into effect at 11 p.m., when bars are required to close for nightly hours.
Orleans Parish bars and breweries will be allowed to continue alcohol sales through drive thru, takeout, and curbside pickup. Outdoor seating will also be allowed for up to 50 individuals with tables socially distanced. Bars and breweries will continue to be required to close nightly at 11 p.m.
The City of New Orleans has updated its Modified Phase Two guidelines to reflect the necessary State changes triggered by the increasing positive case rate.
Residents are encouraged to exercise extreme caution while celebrating the New Year as COVID-19 continues to spread at a dangerous rate in New Orleans.
As you know, Congress passed the end of year Omnibus bill that addresses a series of appropriation issues and the COVID-19 Relief provisions.
A summary of the bill’s UC related provisions may be found here.
Unemployed individuals will get an additional $300/week along with their regular state benefits from Dec. 26, 2020 to March 14, 2021.
The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) for self-employed and gig workers is extended to March 14 (after which no new applicants will be permitted), but PUA recipients as of March 14 will be allowed to stay on three additional weeks before their benefits end (April 5).
The Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) that provides additional weeks of federal benefits when state UC benefits run out is also extended to March 14 (after which no new applications will be taken), and like PUA recipients, PEUC recipients as of March 14 can receive three additional weeks before their benefits end (April).
The bill extends the interest-free status for loans to insolvent state UC trust funds through March 14.
Finally, the bill strengthens program integrity and includes a requirement for applicants to (1) provide documentation of employment (not just self-certification as is currently the case) and (2) verify their identities. States now must have a place for employers to report when someone turns down a job and must notify claimants of the requirement to accept suitable work, unless there is good cause for their refusal.
Legislation regarding most of the above issues is anticipated some time in February before their March expiration.
The National Restaurant Association applauds the Department of Labor (DOL) final rule revising tipping regulations under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The Association and its affiliate the Restaurant Legal Center advocated for many of the changes enacted in the final rule which makes tipping regulations more practical and workable for the restaurant industry and – more importantly – brings them into greater alignment with the FLSA.
The final rule has two major parts that impact the industry:
Today, Congress unveiled a $900 billion relief bill to provide short-term economic relief to the country in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. The plan includes several items that will benefit restaurants, most importantly, a second round of access to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), with unique provisions aimed to assist the restaurant industry, which continues to endure unparalleled job and revenue losses.
“Since early March, when Louisiana restaurants were shut down by the pandemic, the Louisiana Restaurant Association partnered with the National Restaurant Association to press Congress and the Trump administration for both long-term and short-term economic support,” said Stan Harris, LRA President and CEO. “This bill will provide Louisiana restaurants with much needed capital, creating more time for us to work with Congress to develop additional programs to save our beloved community restaurants.”
The plan announced today targets restaurant relief with provisions including:
Other provisions in the bill that will benefit restaurants include the deductibility of business expenses paid with PPP loans, enhancement of the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC), extension of the augmented Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC), and increased tax deduction for business meals.
“The action taken by Congress today will keep tens of thousands of restaurants from closing in the coming months,” said Tom Bené, President and CEO of the National Restaurant Association. “A second round of PPP, combined with unique enhancements for the restaurant sector, will provide critical access to capital. Restaurant operators and their employees are dedicated to serving their communities, and today’s bipartisan agreement will give them the opportunity to do that through the holidays. However, the long-term economic challenges facing independent, franchise, and chain restaurants will not end with the new year, and we will continue to press federal and state leaders for the support that will put us on the road to recovery.”
Click here to read the provisions in the new bill. Find the full National Restaurant Association Blueprint for Restaurant Revival, which includes additional supports to put the restaurant industry on the road to recovery, here.
The National Restaurant Association released Public Policy Principles for Third-Party Delivery (Principles) that define best practices for third-party delivery to guide lawmakers in developing public policy. The release of the Principles culminates a year-long effort by the Association to develop national guidelines based on the experiences of restaurant operators of all sizes. The Principles represent the first time the restaurant industry and third-party delivery companies have come together and agreed on a framework for their relationship.
Delivery represents one of the most important segments of growth for the restaurant industry. In a National Restaurant Association online survey of 1,000 adults conducted Dec. 7-9, 2020, 70% of adults say they ordered delivery from a restaurant and 40% had used a third-party delivery company for their delivery. The pandemic has accelerated restaurant customers’ comfort with technology, and with that new level of access comes a lasting desire for easier ways to satisfy their pent-up demand for their favorite restaurant meals.
“Even before the pandemic, delivery – and decisions related to delivery – had major impacts on restaurant operations,” said Mike Whatley, vice president for State and Local Affairs for the National Restaurant Association. “Until now, the relationship between restaurants and third-party delivery companies lacked a national framework to protect restaurants. These new Principles, which center around permission and transparency, add consistency and structure that will benefit all restaurants. This agreement represents an important first step in an ongoing dialogue between restaurants and third-party delivery companies about ways to improve our relationship going forward.”
The seven Principles are:
"These principles will help strengthen the critical relationship between the diners, drivers and restaurants that has grown even more important during the pandemic," Seth Priebatsch, chief revenue officer at Grubhub, said. "We look forward to continuing to work with the National Restaurant Association to deliver for the hundreds of thousands of restaurants we’re proud to partner with every day."
“The teams at Uber Eats and Postmates are committed to the restaurant community,” said Stephane Ficaja, head of Uber Delivery for the U.S. & Canada. “As one company, we’ve recently made commitments to listening to and learning from merchants and have worked together to support the National Restaurant Association’s development of these new principles that are designed to address the most pressing interests of the industry.”
In the customer survey, roughly 90% of customers who ordered delivery in the last six months favor each of the seven Principles. Read the full Public Policy Principles for Third-Party Delivery here.
If you own your property, your tax statement typically arrives in late November or early December with a December 31 due date. These taxes fund local government, schools, public safety, libraries and other approved taxing districts. Some operators who lease their property may pay into an escrow monthly with their lease payment or pay the tax bill when it is received, either directly or to their landlord.
Noting that in 2020, many of our member businesses suffered catastrophic financial impact due to COVID-19 (dining room closures, reduced capacity and lower consumer demand), many operators are questioning their next steps.
In Louisiana, most parishes assign the role of collecting real estate and personal property taxes to the Sheriff’s office. In Orleans Parish, they are collected by the Bureau of the Treasury. We’ve engaged in ongoing communications with the Louisiana Department of Revenue, several parish presidents and multiple sheriff’s regarding this process and potential mitigation.
If you are unable to make your payment by the December 31 deadline, we recommend the following:
Please note the Sheriff lacks the legal authority to waive the one percent per month interest charged on the unpaid balance, which is established by the Legislature. However, the Sheriff does have the discretion to consider a waiver on other fees charged towards the cost of collection.
In recent weeks, Louisiana has entered its third wave of COVID-19. As Thanksgiving approached, officials near and far have asked us to reconsider traveling, hosting and attending large family and friend gatherings during the holidays. Doctors and officials have continuously traced the spread back to these types of private home gatherings specifically; however, in other states, we are seeing a return to limitations and restrictions.
The misperception is that restaurants are spreading the virus among their patrons, even though contact tracing has shown otherwise. This is beyond troubling to me, and here’s why. My driving force in opening my restaurants in New Orleans was so that I could offer opportunities for our citizens to find rewarding work in my restaurants. Before COVID-19, among my seven restaurants, I employed 500 of our residents. We had to lay off 400 at the beginning of COVID and now, almost nine months later, our staff is at a modest 200 team members. I worry for those who have yet to return to work and if I will be able to bring them back any time soon.
I’m continually disheartened that restaurants continue to be associated with bars and other places that clearly show that they are spreaders. After the government, restaurants are the largest employer in the country. We are all suffering, and we must look at other options to target the spread where it is actually occurring instead of automatically assuming it’s happening at restaurants when there is no data to show that.
We were one of the first restaurants to re-open with a very detailed and thorough COVID policy in place. In the eight months that we have been open, our procedures and policies have shown that we can safely operate in this environment. We have had less than five cases of COVID in those months, and those were contracted at private gatherings outside of the restaurant. Those five were quarantined and removed from the restaurants, and we continued to operate safely.
Restaurants can provide a safe and controlled environment for people to stay engaged and keep people employed. We cannot regulate what happens at private events and private homes, but we can control the environment that the dining public goes out to eat in.
I cannot stress enough that we need to put our politics and personal freedoms in check right now. Regardless of what you believe, a better way to manage this crisis is for each one of us to take responsibility for ourselves by wearing our mask, washing our hands and keeping our distance from those outside your immediate family. By doing so, you can save thousands of restaurant jobs and help an industry that has been devastated by these harsh restrictions.
To our elected officials – Governor Edwards, Mayor Cantrell and others, when determining future measures to combat the spread of COVID-19, please use facts, data and contact tracing, and resist the urge to scapegoat our restaurants like so many states have done so far.
If anyone would like to meet with me, I would be happy to share our experience, our data, our procedures, and ideas on how to work together to keep our restaurants open and operating safely while getting our people back to work and our economy back on its feet.
Chef Donald Link
Link Restaurant Group
Association to Congress: The whole industry needs a 'down payment' relief bill to make it to the new year
Today, the National Restaurant Association sent a letter to Congressional leadership, sharing new survey findings that illustrate continued business deterioration across the restaurant industry and offering support for the moderate compromise proposal as a ‘down payment’ toward a larger relief package in early 2021.
“What these findings make clear is that more than 500,000 restaurants of every business type—franchise, chain, and independent—are in an economic free fall,” said Sean Kennedy, executive vice president for Public Affairs in the letter. “And for every month that passes without a solution from Congress, thousands more restaurants will close their doors for good.”
The National Restaurant Association Research Group conducted the survey of 6,000 restaurant operators and 250 supply chain businesses Nov. 17-30, 2020, and the findings were stark:
• Eighty-seven percent of fullservice restaurants (independent, chain, and franchise) report an average 36% drop in sales revenue. For an industry with an average profit margin of 5%-6%, this is simply unsustainable. Eighty-three percent of fullservice operators expect sales to be even worse over the next three months.
• Although sales are significantly lower for most independent and franchise owners, their costs have not fallen by a proportional level. Fifty-nine percent of operators say their total labor costs (as a percentage of sales) are higher than they were pre-pandemic.
• The future remains bleak. Fifty-eight percent of chain and independent fullservice operators expect continued furloughs and layoffs for at least the next three months.
The tide of restaurants closures and bankruptcies continues to rise—sweeping away jobs in some of the most venerated independent and chain restaurants:
• As of today, 17% of restaurants—more than 110,000 establishments—are closed permanently or long-term.
• The vast majority of permanently closed restaurants were well-established businesses, and fixtures in their communities. On average these restaurants had been in business for 16 years, and 16% had been open for at least 30 years.
• Only 48% of these former restaurant owners say it is likely they will remain in the industry in any form in the months or years ahead. Our nation is losing a generation of industry talent, knowledge and entrepreneurial spirit.
“In short, the restaurant industry simply cannot wait for relief any longer,” said Kennedy. “We appreciate the efforts of a group of moderate members of the House and Senate to advance a true compromise between the competing proposals from Democratic and Republican leaders. If this moderate plan represents a ‘down payment’ for a larger relief package in early 2021, it will provide restaurants with immediate relief to hold on through the most dangerous point in our business year.”
In addition to support of the compromise proposal, the Association provided a plan for how a proposed second draw from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) could be strengthened to reflect the unique business model of the restaurant industry and highlighted other important measures in the proposal that would support restaurants in the short-term.
Read the full letter here and review the Association’s full Blueprint for Restaurant Revival that includes the long-term recovery needs of the industry here.