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Restaurants

Initiative Aims To Support Restaurant Reopenings

By Jessica Maurer, posted May 19, 2020
To help North Carolina restaurants get ready for reopening, the North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association (NCRLA) has introduced Count on Me NC – the North Carolina Restaurant Promise.

The initiative includes a list of public health commitments to be made by restaurants and guests — along with an associated training program developed by N.C. State University reflecting CDC guidance and best practices.

The collaborative effort on the part of the NCRLA, state public health officials, food safety experts and restaurant owners has resulted in a set of standards designed to be adopted by restaurants statewide, allowing for "a safe and thoughtful reopening of the restaurant industry."
 
“We recognize that COVID-19 is an unprecedented public health and economic crisis, and we appreciate Gov. [Roy] Cooper’s leadership in navigating North Carolina through this emergency,” said Lynn Minges, president and CEO of NCRLA, in a news release. “Much of our state’s economy has been shut down by the pandemic and subsequent executive orders, and North Carolina businesses and the people who work in them are hurting — none more than restaurants and hospitality.

"The 550,000 members of our community are ready to get back to work.”

The NCRLA reports the following from a recent survey of member restaurants:
  • 77% said their sales were down 70% or more
  • Only 35% of those who applied for the PPP federal relief program received loans
  • 65% of those surveyed said their business wouldn’t re-open if it remained closed for two months or more
     
“Research shows us that the public is eager to begin dining out and traveling,” said Wit Tuttell, director of Visit NC, a unit of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina, in the release. “But it also shows that they have very high expectations for cleaning and social distancing protocols.”

In addition to developing the NC Restaurant Promise training, NCRLA has worked with the National Restaurant Association to produce “Reopening Guidance: A Guide for the Restaurant Industry,” a manual developed by an expert panel including Dr. Ben Chapman of N.C. State University.

“Count On Me NC conveys a sense of mutual responsibility as we welcome guests back into our dining rooms and other establishments,” said Minges. “Customers will appreciate the commitment of our restaurants, hotels and other businesses to protect their health, the health of other patrons, and the health of our employees by following the guidance of top medical experts in cleaning and sanitizing public spaces.

"At the same time, the presence of hand sanitizer and other cues will remind them to do their part to limit risk to their companions, fellow consumers and the people serving them.”

The NCRLA, in a statement from the organization, said a successful reopening depends on a partnership between businesses and their customers. A companion public relations component will encourage consumers to join the effort to keep everyone safe with a guest pledge.

The campaign will also direct consumers to look for certificates and Count on Me NC logos for assurance that a business has completed the voluntary, no-cost training.

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