Promoting, educating and advocating for Delaware’s restaurant industry since 1965.

COVID-19 Latest News & Updates

Latest DRA E-Newsletter Read the most recent E-Newsletter to our members here. Contains the most up-to-date state and federal information, legislative updates, webinars & communications for DRA Members. Click here to add your address to the mailing list.

‘State of the State – Restaurant Industry Report’

New Restaurant Guideline Compliance Survey signal a safe return to restaurant dining

The Covid-19 Pandemic has devastated the restaurant industry in Delaware and continues to be the greatest uncertainty the industry has ever faced. Under Phase II Guidelines, restaurants are operating at 60% capacity or less, and recent polls indicate that the vast majority of Delaware restaurants are operating under a severe financial loss…and do not expect to be profitable for the next 6 months. 

The Delaware Restaurant Association (DRA) is releasing industry data in a ‘State of the State – Restaurant Industry Report’ containing the following:

  • Devastating economic impact data
  • State revenue loss
  • Job loss
  • Restaurant safety & guideline compliance survey 

Click here to view/download the full report. Questions or press inquiries? Please contact the DRA Office at 302-738-2545 or email Karen@delawarerestaurant.org

NEW DE Grant Relief Program for Businesses

Governor John Carney, New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer and the Delaware Division of Small Business on Wednesday announced grant program of at least $100 million to assist Delaware small businesses and nonprofit organizations affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

– The program is expected to reach more than 3,000 small businesses and nonprofit organizations
– Grants of up to $100,000 will be awarded (based on 2019 revenue)
– The Division of Small Business is administering the program – learn more at delbiz.com/relief
– Applications/awards will begin in September, with 2 additional rounds in October & November

DE Relief Grants can be used for:

  • Purchasing equipment to make a workplace suitable for COVID-19 safety (such as PPE, plexiglass, air purifiers, etc.)
  • Refinancing of debt incurred due to COVID-19 (including DE H.E.L.P. loans)
  • Advertising efforts undertaken as a result of COVID-19
  • Fixed expenses the applicant accrued during COVID-19

The Division of Small Business’ team of Regional Business Managers is available to help companies prepare their applications. Small businesses can connect with the manager for their part of the state at delbiz.com/contact.
For more information on DE Relief Grants, visit delbiz.com/relief.

UPDATE – Restaurant Guidelines

Interim Steps for Phase 2 Restaurants Reopening
On Friday July 24th, Governor John Carney signed the 24th modification to his State of Emergency declaration, allowing interim reopening steps for businesses.  

1.  New safety measures allow for additional seating in dining locations 

Tables and booths must be arranged in a way that ensures customers at one table are at least six (6) feet apart from customers who are adjacent to or facing them unless barriers are present. If barriers are used:

  • Must be at least 6 feet in height and start no more than 2 feet from the floor.
  • Must be wide enough to provide coverage for people seated at the table.
  • Can be installed for this purpose, but walls, booths, etc., that meet the size requirements are acceptable.

2.  Help with floor plans & reaching 60% capacity

For dining establishments that are experiencing challenges with getting to 60% capacity, the Division of Public Health has developed a process to work directly with your business to hopefully address the challenge in a way to increase business. Please send floor plans or questions to HSPContact@delaware.gov

3.  Contract Tracing Information

The modification also contained a requirement that food and drink establishments notify customers that they have the option to leave contact information in the event that a case of COVID-19 is traced back to the facility and they would like to be alerted. 

  • Food and Drink Establishments are required to notify patrons that they may provide their name and phone number or email address to the establishment, and that the establishment will keep the information on file for the sole purpose of allowing the Division of Public Health (DPH) to contact the patron if another patron or an employee is later found to have tested positive for COVID-19. 
  • If a patron leaves such contact information, the establishment must retain the information for twenty-eight (28) days.
  • The establishment need not deny service to patrons who do not provide contact information for this purpose. 

Restaurant Update – OABCC Alcohol Regulations & Bar Games

The OABCC sent out this notice to all license holders today, updating the Phase 2 Guidelines for restaurants & bars:
Bar games such as pool, darts, pinball machines, and similar may take place:

  • as long as participants are kept six feet apart at all times
  • as long as participants wear face masks at all times
  • as long as any equipment used is not shared between participants and is disinfected between uses
  • and as long as any surfaces participants touch are disinfected every 15 minutes to 2 hours using an EPA-approved disinfectant

HB 349 SIGNED BY GOVERNOR CARNEY

Sponsored by Rep. Quinn Johnson, Rep. Bill Bush and Sen. Trey Paradee, HB 349 has now been signed into law by Governor John Carney. 
HB 349 w/HA1 (read full text here) allows food and drink establishments to:

  • expand their outdoor seating space increasing their square footage and overall seating capacity
  • sell alcoholic beverages for take-out, curbside or drive-through service
  • The new law extends these State of Emergency provisions through March 2021.
  • PLEASE NOTE: House Amendment 1 removes the requirements that take-out, curbside, or drive through service must include complete meals and that the cost for alcoholic beverages not exceed 40% of the licensee’s total sales transactions

Latest Executive Order – Bar Restrictions Beginning July 3rd

PHASE 2 TEMPORARY BUSINESS RESTRICTIONS
Effective July 3, 2020 at 8:00 a.m. E.D.T., the following additional restrictions shall apply to taprooms and bar service in restaurants in the towns of Lewes, Rehoboth Beach, Dewey Beach, Long Neck, Bethany Beach, South Bethany, Fenwick Island, West Fenwick Island, Ocean View, Millville and/or the following zip codes: 19966 east of Rt. 24 and Rt. 5; 19945 east of Rt. 17; 19975 east of the intersection of Rts. 20 and 54, and the entirety of 19944, 19967, 19970, 19930, 19971, and 19958

  • Taprooms, brewpubs and restaurants may not permit patrons to sit or stand at a bar, but may open the bar to prepare drinks to be brought to diners seated at tables. Taprooms, brewpubs and restaurants that choose to use designated bar space for seating patrons must arrange tables consistent with the Phase 2 Reopen Plan to allow for minimum social distancing. Read full order here.

New DRA White Papers – COVID-19 Guidance for Employers & Employees

These industry white papers were designed to answer your mostly frequently asked questions, and provide a quick resource when needed in situations such as employee testing, dealing with positive test results and exposure, HR issues surrounding time off and expanded paid leave, and all of the mask regulations and issues with guests surrounding noncompliance. 

Download the new DRA White Papers:
Workplace Guidance for Restaurant Employers

(what to do with positive tests within your restaurant)

Workplace Guidance for Restaurant Employees
(common questions/answers for your staff)

Restaurant Guidance for Face Coverings
(the regulations, restaurant inspections, and suggested procedures)

Additional quick links providing information for restaurant operators/employers:

DRA Restaurant Reopening Toolkit Now Available!

This comprehensive, all-in-one document includes operator information
and guidance from all state agencies, plus a master checklist of critical steps
needed to take before restaurant reopening can occur.

Phase 2 Toolkit now available!
Click here to view/download

Complete Phase 2 Reopening Guidelines here, or by industry at Division of Small business website. Division of Public Health guidelines available here. DPH Compliance Checklist (used by food safety inspection officers) can be found here – this document can also help restaurants devise their “restaurant plan” for reopening if used as a checklist for action items under Phase 2 Guidelines.

Please note the following changes for restaurants under the Phase 2 Guidelines:

  • Capacity restriction (indoors) will now be 60%
  • People from different households may now be seated together (with proper distance)
  • Reservations not required if restaurants can assure no gathering takes place while waiting to be seated
  • Bar service and seating at a bar may reopen as long as proper social distancing is observed between those not of the same household.

For Banquets & Catering:

  • Hosts of indoor gatherings must calculate useable capacity at thirty (30) square feet per person up to a maximum of 250 people. Attendees must social distance from those not part of their household. For gatherings of more than 250 people, approval is needed by the Division of Small Business.
  • Self-service food and buffet options may only reopen if the facility assigns dedicated staff to distribute food, and any customers at buffet are socially distanced from others who are not of the same household. No customer at any time should touch serving utensils, and staff members should be dedicated to a particular serving utensil or utensils so that multiple staff are not touching the same utensils.

Expanded Outdoor Seating for Restaurants

Governor Carney announced during his press conference on Tuesday, May 19th that restaurants, bars, taprooms and craft breweries may apply to expand outdoor seating capacity to safely serve additional customers when the businesses reopen next month (Phase 1 is set to begin June 1st).
Applications guidelines available here – expansions would be authorized to begin on June 1.

  • Under Tuesday’s order, all Delaware food and drink establishments may apply to their local municipal or county jurisdiction to expand their outdoor seating capacity.
  • Plans for adding outdoor capacity must consider local traffic patterns and noise ordinances.
  • Boundaries must be clearly defined to prevent beverages from being carried offsite.
  • Applicants that hold a liquor license must also have their plans reviewed by the Office of Alcoholic Beverage Control prior to receiving approval.

For additional details about Delaware’s economic reopening, visit de.gov/economy.
Click here for application guidelines

Restaurant Reopening Guidance for Phase 1

On Friday, May 15th Governor Carney announced the Reopening Guidelines for Delaware Restaurants. The guidelines for reopening also include “general guidance” that applies to individuals, regardless of where they are going and businesses regardless of what industry they are in.
Click here to view the full press release here – full guideline text here 
(restaurants and foodservice on page 16).

Guidance for Face Coverings

Governor John Carney issued a modified State of Emergency declaration that requires Delawareans to wear face coverings in public settings, including in grocery stores, convenience stores, pharmacies, doctor’s offices, and on public transportation beginning at 8am, Tuesday 4/28. Read more here.

By 8:00 a.m. on Friday, May 1, businesses must: 

  • Require employees to wear a face covering while working in areas open to the public and in areas where coming within 6 feet of other staff is likely.
  • Provide, at the business’ expense, face coverings and hand sanitizer for their employees.
  • Deny entry to individuals who do not have a face covering – or if one is not available for them.
  • If any business denying entry is providing medication, medical supplies, or food, the business must provide alternate methods of pickup or delivery.

SIGNAGE MANDATE FOR ALL DE RESTAURANTS Governor Carney’s 8th Modification to the State of Emergency includes the mandate that ALL essential businesses (not just high risk) MUST display window signs IMMEDIATELY in both English and Spanish. 

Only high risk businesses are required to do screening as described in the mandate – we are not currently classified as high risk businesses.  Please use this link to download posters in English & Spanish.

PPP Loan Forgiveness Application NEW INFORMATION provided by the SBA/US Dept of the Treasury. This application includes instructions for borrowers on how to apply for forgiveness of their PPP Loan. Click here to download/print.

H.E.L.P. Loans – UPDATED – now approved for businesses with annual sales of up to $15 million – read more here.

SBA Disaster Loans are now available for businesses – click here for more information and online applications.

Families First/Coronovirus Relief ActInfo here on paid sick leave and expanded family and medial leave. This is currently in a question/answer format for business owners and will be updated as DOL releases their official regulations.

Expanded Delaware Unemployment BenefitsRead alert here on unemployment changes for DE workers.

Also, per the Secretary of Labor, rather than completing individual forms for each employee registering with the unemployment office, you can send ONE LETTER to the office with the names and social security numbers of each employee attempting to file for benefits. This will help the office streamline their requests for unemployment benefits Please direct emails to: Carolyn.Nasser@delaware.govBarry.Butler@delaware.gov, and William.Potter@delaware.gov.

Have questions about bringing your employees back to work after they’ve been collecting unemployment?

Click here for an informative Q&A from the Department of Labor. Click here for a sample return to work letter, and here for refusal of work documentation.

Still have questions? Contact the DRA at 302-738-2545.

Restaurant Industry Relief Fund – founded to support community members in need – our goal is to raise $1Million and support 2,000 DE restaurant workers!

Help Save the Industry That Serves Us All!
Click here to donate (or apply for funds) today!

ServSafe Food Handler Now FREE for Industry The National Restaurant Association has made several resources available for free for the month of April, including ServSafe Food Handler and guides on safe carryout and delivery practices. ServSafe Manager resources are also available for free during April, but paid proctored exams are still necessary to receive Manager certification.


Other Virtual Toolkit Links for Carryout/Delivery Best Practices


Critical Delaware-Specific Information


Guidelines from DE Division of Public Health


Other Resources & Information


Latest Press & Related Articles

1 in 10 Delawareans work in the restaurant industry, and we’re proud to serve as the center and heartbeat of our communities. We are working with government and state agencies to keep #DErestaurants safely  #OpenforBusiness to provide nourishment for our frontline workers and our communities.