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Is there an effective way to transition our guests to using our delivery option instead of a 3rd party delivery app?

In every to go or delivery order include some method that encourages customers to order directly from you. For example placing a flyer in every order with your phone number.

Does the IRS Tax Relief currently provided apply to excise and payroll taxes?

No, under the notice, normal filing, payment, and deposit due dates continue to apply to both payroll and excise taxes.

For the IRS’s complete guidance and common Q&A’s click here.

Can you file for an extension with DOR for sales tax?

Yes, click here for more information.

If I close is there any assistance to continue paying bills like my lease, utilities, or insurance?

Currently there is no relief mandated at this level, however we would recommend you call the companies that provide these services for you. ESD and L&I are waiving late fees and penalties, there is a possibility that others may do the same.

Am I legally required to pay health insurance of the employees that I have laid off?

There are no legal requirements around this outside of COBRA laws and whatever requirements you have with your healthcare agency.

Can someone order take and then dine at one of my outside tables?

No, there is no consumption allowed on-site.

Will Food Trucks need to close down?

No, all food establishments should be operating under a take-out or to-go business model for the time being. Food trucks, who offer take-out or to go-food can continue operating as usual.

Can someone have a drink while they are waiting for their to go order?

No, there is no consumption allowed on-site, this includes beverages.

Can I press employees into delivery? What are the liability and insurance issues?

Contact individual insurance company for information. Each business will be different.

How can a business do delivery and what does a business need to do delivery?

If a business is not already set up to do deliveries, they should check in with their insurance companies to see what the next steps are. Many will need to purchase additional insurance coverage for employees and drivers.

For to-go orders, can customers wait inside?

Yes, customers can wait inside, but must practice social distancing. Please see the following article – https://wahospitality.org/blog/social-distancing-what-does-it-mean-and-how-do-restaurants-and-hotels-set-up-for-it/

What is the penalty for leaving your dining room open?

Allowing guests to dine in your establishment will be a misdemeanor and is subject to penalties and possible jail time.

What does a restaurant need to do delivery (Not 3rd party)? As far as insurance, other state requirements?

Contact your insurance company to ensure that you have the right coverage.

Are private clubs mandated to close as well?

Yes.

Will insurance cover perishable inventory that doesn’t get sold for the next two weeks?

Contact your insurance company to ensure that you have the right coverage.

What if anything do I need to do for my employees so that they can travel to work?

At this point, essential businesses are under no obligation to provide documentation for work or travel. This was not an order under Inslee’s proclamation made on March 23rd. Restaurants and hotels are considered essential businesses and can travel to work and for work with no additional requirements.

Does the Association have a standard letter to communicate to staff what COVID-19 is and why we might need to close?

No, at this time members should work with HR and/or attorney to draft clear, regular communication to employees. Start here with this official note: https://www.governor.wa.gov/news-media/inslee-statement-statewide-shutdown-restaurants-bars-and-limits-size-gatherings-expanded. Then tailor something for your staff.

The Department of Health has excellent resources on what it is. https://hub.wahospitality.org/coronavirus-resource/coronavirus-fact-sheets/

Should hotels shut down the complimentary breakfast area?

All self-service food stations need to be monitored by staff to:

  • Ensure all sneeze guards, utensils, and other customer-service equipment is properly in place and used
  • Discard any food that has been contaminated by customers, such as touching food or sneezing and or coughing along the service line
  • Monitor food to maintain proper temperature
  • Replace utensils with clean utensils at least every four hours and ensure used utensils are properly washed, rinsed, and sanitized
  • Ensure non-food contact surfaces, particularly touchpoints such as counters, hand rails, etc., are washed, rinsed, and sanitized daily
  • Limit customer traffic to prevent close contact of customers (defined as being within 6 feet of each other for at least 10 minutes)
  • Self-service should be discontinued if this level of monitoring is not sustainable.

Should we adjust our cancellation policies?

Lodging properties can evaluate whether to adjust their cancellation policies at this time.

(Example language provided by IHG)

“Given continued consideration of coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak, and in order to facilitate our hotel guests to change or cancel their reservations, [hotel name] has updated its cancellation policy. Our highest priority is the health and well-being of our guests and employees.

[Hotel name] will allow a guest to change or cancel a valid booking reservation made via the hotel directly, its website, its app or the Central Reservations Center for any stay without financial penalty. For bookings made by a travel agent or online booking platform, guests should contact their agent and refer to their terms and conditions.”

How can we communicate with customers?

  • My business follows the strict guidelines set forth by the health department. (As applicable) We have more than XX employees who are ServSafe certified in proper food safety handling.
  • We follow the CDC’s guidance and encourage everyone to get a flu vaccine, take preventative actions like washing their hands often and staying home when you are sick. This is our advice for customers and employees.
  • Our food supply is stable and safe. Supply chains presently are not impacted by travel bans. Cargo planes and ships from restricted countries (Italy, China, South Korea and Iran) are permitted into the United States to deliver cargo; however individuals on the planes and ships will not be permitted to disembark.

(Provided by the National Restaurant Association)

Are there any new rules that would impact the ability to hire a minor?

We have not heard of any changes in the hiring of minors during this time. You would still need to follow the same guidelines as indicated by L&I regarding employing minors when school is in session, since technically they are still “in school”. For more information on How To Hire Minors: https://lni.wa.gov/workers-rights/youth-employment/how-to-hire-minors.

I’m open for take out and my dining room is closed. Do my restrooms need to be open to the public?

Food establishments are only required to offer a restroom to the public if they offer dine-in seating. Since there is a temporary ban on dining-in, providing a restroom is not required. If an establishment chooses to keep their restroom open to guests, it is advisable to reduce the close proximity of guests and employees and implement sanitation plans and protocols.

Are there any special provisions for COVID-19 specific bankruptcy?

There has been debate in Congress about bankruptcy due to COVID-19, but at this time, no new laws have passed.