Timeline of COVID policies that impacted restaurants
March 16 — Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney announces meals tax amnesty program for local restaurants, recommends all restaurants limit on-site service to 50 or fewer guests, remove bar seating, and move tables at least 6 feet apart to help combat the spread of the coronavirus. In exchange, most of the largest restaurant groups in the area say they will close their dining rooms.
March 17 — Virginia bans gatherings of 10 or more people, including inside restaurants, gyms and theaters. The ban exempts grocery stores, retail stores, pharmacies, medical facilities, manufacturing plants and distribution centers, as well as transportation hubs like airports and bus depots.
March 20 — Northam says any restaurant in Virginia with a valid license to sell wine and beer on-premises can now sell wine and beer to go and for delivery without applying for additional permits.
March 23 — Northam orders restaurant dining rooms closed.
April 3 – Applications open for the first round of Paycheck Protection Program loans for small businesses. The $349 billion in funds would run out in 13 days and billions would go to industries unaffected by COVID restrictions and large companies. Less than 9% would go to restaurants; its estimated that only 5% went to small businesses.
April 4 — Additional $600 in weekly unemployment benefits begins for workers.
April 10 — Restaurants can now sell mixed drinks and cocktails on a takeout and delivery basis.
April 18 — The Virginia Employment Commission says it’s overwhelmed. In Virginia, 410,762 people have filed for benefits in the past four weeks, roughly 9% of the state’s workforce.
April 27 — Richmond City Council passes meals tax amnesty, but with a stipulation that restaurants must apply to participate. Second round of federal PPP loans can be applied for. 75% of funds still must be spent on payroll.
May 15 — Virginia moves in to Phase One of its reopening plan allowing restaurants to open patios-only at 50% of seating and 6-feet between tables. The city of Richmond requests — and is granted — a two-week delay in reopening because of rising positivity rates.
May 22 — Virginia’s unemployment rate soars to 10.6% for the month of April, the highest in more than 40 years, according to a Virginia Employment Commission report released May 22. It’s the highest monthly rate since current data collection methods started in 1976.
May 26 — Northam announces a statewide indoor face mask policy for anyone over the age of 10 to wear a mask while inside a public building or business establishment. Enforcement falls to businesses and its employees.
May 29 — The city of Richmond enters Phase One, allowing patio dining at restaurants.
June 5 — Virginia moves into Phase Two of reopening. Restaurants and bars can operate indoor dining at 50% capacity.
June 12 — Richmond enters Phase Two with 50% indoor dining capacity.
July 1 — Virginia, including Richmond, enters Phase Three, allowing restaurants to use all of their seating up to 250 seats, with 6 feet of distance between table. The night before it begins, Northam announces that the bar area of restaurants must remain closed.
July 25 — Additional $600 in weekly unemployment benefits ends for workers.
Nov. 16 — Restaurants must close by midnight and cease alcohol sales by 10 p.m. under new state COVID restrictions.
Dec. 28 — President Donald Trump signs newest coronavirus relief bill, which adds additional funding to the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program and $300 enhanced unemployment benefits for laid off workers.
Jan. 11 – The city of Richmond announces second amnesty period for taxes on real estate, meals, lodging and admissions for the coming spring.
March 1 — Restaurants alcohol sales can now go until midnight.
March 8 — Richmond and Henrico Health Districts open up vaccinations for restaurant workers.
March 10 – American Rescue Plan Act passes, including the extension of the additional $300 in weekly unemployment benefits until September 6.
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