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Outdoor Dining Updates, PPP Fix Stalls, Scaling UP Operations Webinar

Thursday, May 21, 2020  
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The Illinois Restaurant Association continues to engage with local, state, and federal officials to help our employers and employees address concerns about COVID-19.

Please see the below resources and information for your business - updated as of 9:00 p.m. on Thursday, May 21.



Outdoor Dining Allowed in Phase 3, Chicago Working Toward Early June Opening Date


Following Governor J.B. Pritzker's announcement to allow outdoor dining at restaurants starting in Phase 3 of Restore Illinois, municipalities across the state are evaluating innovative strategies for outdoor dining. The IRA is fully supportive of this initiative, and we are calling on all local municipalities to embrace creative outdoor dining strategies - such as closing down streets, expanding sidewalk cafes, using parking lots and public ways, and more.

Today, Mayor Lightfoot announced that the City of Chicago will likely need more time to fully develop and execute a complete, citywide outdoor dining plan for restaurants. The IRA is collaborating with Mayor Lightfoot and the Chicago recovery task force, as well as city departments, business owners, and other stakeholders to ensure the development of clear plans and guidelines for a safe and effective roll out of outdoor dining in early June.

While the Governor’s action to allow for outdoor dining in Phase 3 will not help every restaurant operator, it is a step in the right direction for restaurants, diners, and communities around the state.

Read more:


PPP Fix Legislation Stalls in Senate, New Legislation Coming


Today, Senators attempted to approve legislation that would make major changes to the PPP program, but ended up punting the measure until next week at the earliest. The bipartisan fix would give business owners 16 weeks instead of eight to use their loan money and still be eligible for forgiveness of the loan. The legislation would also give business owners until December to apply for the loans instead of ending the program in June.

With the Senate set to take next week off for the Memorial Day holiday, the only way to get quick approval was for all 100 senators to sign off on the plan. The Senate was unable to get consent so it could pass today, meaning next week will be the earliest it can pass if all senators again agree to allow its passage.

Next Wednesday, the bipartisan Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act, H.R. 6886, is scheduled to be introduced on the House floor. The National Restaurant Association played a significant role in helping draft these important modifications. Briefly, the legislation would:

  • Allow forgiveness for expenses beyond the 8-week covered period. 

  • Eliminate restrictions limiting non-payroll expenses to 25% of loan proceeds. 

  • Eliminate restrictions that limit loan terms to 2 years. 

  • Ensure full access to payroll tax deferment for businesses that take PPP loans. 

  • Extend the rehiring deadline to offset the effect of enhanced Unemployment Insurance. 

Click here to read more from CNN.


CDC Releases Reopening Guidelines, Surface Transmission Info


This week, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released reopening guidelines for specific industries—including restaurants. The guidance includes how to scale-up operations, sanitation practices, social distancing procedures, health monitoring guidelines, and what to do if a staff member becomes sick or an outbreak of the virus occurs in the area.

The CDC emphasizes that state and local rules should be followed. Click here to read specific guidance for restaurants. View the full 60-page report here.

Additionally, recent guidance issued by the CDC sheds new light on how coronavirus spreads through surfaces. Though there is the possibility that coronavirus could be transmitted by touching a surface — and then your nose, mouth or eyes — the likelihood of that is lower than person-to-person contact, which is believed to be the primary way coronavirus is transmitted. 

Click here to read more from USA Today.


Governor Pritzker Withdraws Emergency Rule to Penalize Businesses


Yesterday, Governor Pritzker announced that he is withdrawing the proposed rule that would subject owners of businesses that improperly reopen to penalties of up a year in jail and a $2,500 fine. The Governor also clarified that the proposed rule was not intended to revoke business licenses or prosecute violators.

The rule had been presented for ratification by the General Assembly's Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR). Sen. Bill Cunningham, co-chair of JCAR, indicated that the General Assembly will address this matter through the legislative process.

Read more from The Center Square.


IRA Webinar - Scaling UP Restaurant Operations



Join us Thursday, May 28 at 10:00 a.m. (Central) for a two-part webinar series addressing management issues and providing strategies for reopening safely and successfully being offered by the IRA and University of Illinois Extension, in conjunction with University of Illinois College of Agriculture, Consumer and Environmental Sciences and the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition.

This first webinar in the series, focusing on Financial Considerations, will provide strategies on ordering, planning a cost effective menu and pivoting your offerings in this new environment.


Click here to register.


IRA Partners with Hope for the Day to 86 the Silence


The IRA is proud to partner with IRA member Hope for the Day on the launch of their 86 the Silence Initiative - a mental health education and outreach program designed to break the silence of stigmas within the food and beverage industry.

Please join us Monday, June 1 at 1:30 p.m. (Central) for a special 86 The Silence online education experience. Joel Frieders of Hopsmash & Jeannine Wise of Frontera Restaurant Group will be leading the conversation.

Click here to register.

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