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COVID-19 UPDATE: Relief Passed and Advocacy Efforts March 19,2020

Updated March 20, 2020

We're working on many pieces of relief on your behalf, and will keep a running list of our efforts and what has been accomplished here.

Family First Coronavirus Response Act Signed by President Trump

Today, phase two of the federal government's coronavirus response cleared the U.S. Senate and was signed by President Trump. This bill was aimed at providing workers with relief, and it included a mandate for businesses to pay for Emergency Family and Medical Leave and Emergency Paid Sick Leave related to a diagnosis of COVID-19. Click here to find a detailed description from the National Restaurant Association. Click here to read about what employers need to do to comply.

The bill also contained: 

  • Nutrition waivers
  • Emergency Family and Medical Leave expansion Act
  • Emergency Unemployment Insurance Stabilization and Access Act of 2020
  • Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act
  • Health provisions
  • Tax credits for paid sick and paid family and medical leave
We are in the process of reading the complete bill and will update you on what you need to know to comply tomorrow.

Federal Tax Deferment

Tax-payers will receive a 90 day deferment on all federal income taxes. During this three month period, payments will not be subject to interest or penalties. Please note that this only applies to federal income taxes, we are working to negotiate a similar agreement with state and local agencies.

60 Day Foreclosure and Eviction Suspension

US Department of Housing and Urban Development authorized the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) to implement an immediate foreclosure and eviction moratorium for certain single family homeowners with FHA issued mortgages for the next 60 days. This applies only to those with Title II Single Family forward and Home Equity Conversion (reverse) mortgages. FHA continues to encourage servicers to offer loss mitigation options in the form of short and long-term forbearance options, mortgage modifications, and other mortgage payment relief options available based on the borrower’s individual circumstances.

Details on President Trump's Stimulus Plan

Senate GOP leadership is working with the Trump Administration to craft an economic stimulus package that could end up costing nearly $1 trillion. During this afternoon's press conference, the President proposed the stimulus package and outlined details. Provisions include:​

  • Airline Industry Secured Lending Facility ($50 billion)
  • Temporarily Permit Use of the Exchange Stabilization Fund to Guarantee Money Market Mutual Funds
  • Economic Impact Tax Payments ($500 billion of direct payments to individual taxpayers sent in two funds)

Read more here
 
Sen. McConnell (R-KY) pledged on Tuesday that the Senate will not leave town until they pass this stimulus package. Republican senators are divided on whether money should go to workers directly missing paychecks because of the virus or to all adults in an attempt to boost the economy generally. Further, they are split on how the money should be delivered, whether it be directly to Americans through unemployment insurance or to businesses in the form of loans designed to be used for payroll. McConnell says the Senate will work at “warp speed” on this, but it is difficult to predict a timeline for action.
 
Sen. Schumer (D-NY) has been working on a separate version of a stimulus plan, but McConnell said he will look to achieve bipartisan support. Schumer's $750 billion-dollar proposal includes $400 billion in emergency appropriations, in addition to $350 billion in benefit increases and changes to federal safety net programs and has various provisions that would be concerning to our industry.

Action from the National Restaurant Association

The National Restaurant Association called on President Trump and congressional leaders to provide immediate relief in the wake of government-mandated operational changes.  The large-scale closures and restrictions on gatherings have created an economic hardship that will ripple through every community in this country.

Early economic forecasts reveal the industry will sustain at least a $225 billion loss and be forced to eliminate between 5 to 7 million jobs over the next three months; however, the White House and others are projecting a potentially longer period for reduced operations.

This morning we delivered to the White House, Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, and to House Speaker Pelosi, the industry’s initial recovery request.  Click here to read a copy of our press release and click here to read the letter. 

The letter requests immediate financial relief on three fronts:

1. Direct/Targeted Relief

  • Authorize the Department of Treasury to create a $145 billion Restaurant and Foodservice Industry Recovery Fund.
  • $35 billion for Community Development Block Grants for Disaster Relief (CDBGDR) assistance.
  • Assistance in allowing businesses to defer mortgage, lease and loan obligations.
2. Loans/Insurance Options for Impacted Small Businesses
  • $100 billion in Federally-Backed Business Interruption Insurance.
  • Federal Loan Program Equal to Lost Revenue.
  • $45 billion in expanded access to effective, efficient and affordable federal and conventional loans.
  • $130 Million in Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA).
3. Tax Measures
  • Reduced credit card fees.
  • Tax credits.
  • A temporary payroll tax cut.
  • Tax delays and deferrals.
  • A fix on the Qualified Improvement Property (QIP) technical correction.

The Association has launched an aggressive media campaign to underscore the undue burden being carried by the industry and our employees. Our letter was covered extensively in political and business media outlets—and our media engagement will sustain throughout this public policy and political battle.

SBA Loans

Colorado small businesses impacted by COVID-19 can now seek individual small business loans up to $2 million as part of the Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. Small businesses throughout all 64 counties may seek SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans. For more information, click here.

Earlier:
Governor Polis and the Colorado congressional delegation have called on the Small Business Administration to approve a disaster declaration that would free up emergency loans for small businesses in the state struggling with the impacts of COVID-19. The Governor has listed Alamosa, Baca, Denver, Eagle, El Paso, Gunnison, Jefferson, Larimer, La Plata, Las Animas, Lincoln, Logan, Pueblo, Rio Grande, Routt, and San Miguel counties as those in need of emergency relief. 

Last week, Congress passed the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2020, which would allow the SBA to provide Economic Injury Disaster Loans under a Governor’s Certification Disaster Declaration.

If approved, small businesses and private nonprofits who qualify are eligible to borrow up to $2 million with a maximum 30-year term at a current interest rate of 3.75%. The hope is that these funds will allow businesses to survive long enough to reopen and rehire employees once restrictions on movement are lifted. 

Additional Federal Efforts

On Friday, March 13, we sent a letter to all of Colorado's US Congressmen and our two Senators asking for relief, and we spoke with Senator Gardner and Congressman Lamborn directly, and Senator Bennet’s office. You can read our letter here. What we're asking for:
  • Mortgage Payment Deferrals: Provide temporary assistance that would allow businesses and employees to defer mortgage payments in the event that restaurant traffic declines even more due to local mandates.
  • Small Business Administration (SBA) Loans: Allow for temporary interest-only payments on SBA loans currently in payment.
  • Cost-Sharing Barriers: Request that the IRS consider tax breaks to individual business owners or restaurants that have suffered a 20% or greater decline in business since January 1, 2020.
  • Financial/Economic Stimulus Package: Consider an economic stimulus package to be issued directly to business owners as a bail-out to offer financial relief.
  • Holiday on Payroll Taxes: Defer payroll tax payments until the impacts of COVID-19 have subsided. 
We’ve been working closely with the National Restaurant Association on their lobbying efforts to help with relief. 

State Efforts

On March 20, 2020, Governor Polis announced a number of executive orders relevant to the restaurant industry. You can read the summary of that announcement here. The biggest item was an order to allow restaurants to sell alcohol to-go and delivery. Read the rules here

Earlier:
At the State level, we have sent a letter to Governor Jared Polis with specific asks for relief that will eliminate regulatory burdens for Colorado’s restaurants and help to protect your limited cash flow. Read that letter 
here. Specific asks:

Taxes and Fees
  • Delay sales tax remittance for restaurants for 90 days.
  • Suspend indefinitely business improvement and other hospitality fees/taxes where possible.
  • Suspend or defer property, estimated income, and franchise taxes.
  • Quickly refund overpayment of estimated taxes.
Delivery Regulations
  • Cap or reduce delivery fees for restaurants on third party delivery.
  • Allow restaurants with valid liquor licenses to deliver alcohol to customers or allow them to sell alcohol with carry-out or to-go orders.
Government Mandates
  • Suspend any government mandates set to come into effect in the next two months.
  • Extend the amount of time retailers have to pay wholesalers for alcohol purchased to 90 days.
Payment Relief
  • Prohibit landlords from evicting restaurants for non-payment of rent during the COVID-19 crisis. Allow restaurants to pay back rent over a series of months after the crisis abates.
  • Prohibit utilities from shutting off services to restaurants during the COVID-19 crisis due to lack of payment.
  • Waive restaurant payment of utilities for 90 days or other utility relief.
  • Extend the window for restaurants to make payments on COVID-19 related expenditures. 
  • Call on the banking industry to help with bridge loans and loan payments during the COVID-19 crisis.
We continue to work with individual departments to implement emergency rules that will alleviate pressure on Colorado’s restaurants and are being told that our requests are being pushed up to the top of each Department. Our letter to Governor Polis outlines the specific requests we are making.

We have also worked with other groups, both inside and outside of the restaurant industry, with specific requests to the Governor for relief. All of the groups we are talking to know the kinds of pressure you are feeling right now and they have been more than willing to help. We are grateful that they know how important restaurants are in the state and are willing to get in the fight with us.

Local Efforts

Denver Relief Package:

The City of Denver announced that it is creating an initial relief fund of $4 million to support small businesses during this time. The city’s primary goal is to help the people most directly impacted by the disruptions caused by COVID-19. These programs are aimed at supporting businesses so they can support their employees. Read the full release here. The package includes:
  • Denver Economic Development and Opportunity (DEDO) is setting up an emergency relief program to provide cash grants up to $7,500 to qualifying small businesses. The highest priority will be the industries most impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, such as the food industry. 
  • DEDO, in partnership with CEDS Finance, will refocus an existing microloan program to support small businesses’ stabilization efforts. Current recipients of loans from DEDO will have the ability to temporarily defer loan payments, should they need to. 
  • The Denver Department of Finance (DOF) will waive the 15% penalty for late payment of February and March sales, use, and occupational privilege taxes due March 20 and April 20, 2020. The return must be filed and funds remitted within 30 days of the due date. DOF will evaluate extension of the waiver on a month-by-month basis. 
  • For the next 30 days, the Denver Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DOTI) will suspend enforcement of the following:
    • Parking meters (All meters will be free and without time limits.) 
    • Time-limited, non-metered parking areas (e.g., 30-minute, 1-hour, 2-hour, etc.)
    • Residential Permit Parking areas 
    • 72-hour parking limits (Residents and visitors can park their vehicles in one spot for more than 72 hours.) 
    • Large vehicle parking (People can park trucks and other vehicles more than 22’ in length on the street.) 
    • School bus loading zones 
    • Booting
    • Denver’s street sweeping program will begin April 1; however, the city will not enforce parking restrictions related to street sweeping for 30 days. People who are able to move their cars on street sweeping day are asked to do so to allow street sweepers to reach the curb line and more effectively sweep. 
For more information, and how to apply for the various relief funding opportunities, please click here.
 
The city is working to secure commitments from corporate partners to advance additional support for businesses and employees and is supporting efforts by the banking industry to obtain regulatory authority to provide deferrals for loan payments. 

To support job seekers while the city’s Workforce Centers are physically closed, workforce services will be offering 1:1 services online, by phone, and via email. In-person hiring events have also been changed into a month-long virtual job fair where job-seekers can access the same job opportunities they would be able to at our in-person job fairs. For more information, click here.

See the official Denver business support document: 
click here.
.

Earlier: we sent two letters asking for relief at the local level.


1. Earlier in the week, we were asked to provide Denver Mayor Hancock with a list of requests that could provide help for businesses in Denver. Read that letter here.

2. Additionally, we are working with our partners at the Colorado Municipal League to have a version of that letter sent to every Mayor, city manager, and city clerk in the State of Colorado asking them for relief for restaurants. Read that letter here. We are hopeful that this will bring minor changes to city regulations that will allow restaurants to operate more smoothly and maintain their cash flow.

Our specific asks:
  • Don’t charge for parking meters so that people can more easily pick up food
  • Call for rent and loan abatement for workers and restaurants/bars
  • Consider loan programs for businesses to get through the state of emergency
  • Waive penalties for late fillings of any kind from businesses
  • Provide relief for renewal costs of any licensure during the state of emergency
  • Ensure that staffing level are maintained for ALL departments interacting with businesses or their employees
  • Consider delayed payment of fines for restaurant health code violations
  • Quick refunds for overpayment of taxes
  • Delay remittance of sales tax for restaurants during the state of emergency
  • Suspend sales tax on “non-essential” paper goods sold to a restaurant (togo containers)


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