Pierce County officials, in an effort to help restaurants stay in business and retain jobs, will offer an incentive for customers to dine inside restaurants next month.
The two-week "restaurant rally," is scheduled for Nov. 8-19, excluding Friday and Saturday. Restaurants will offer a 30 percent discount to customers who dine inside, and then the county will reimburse the businesses.
"Our goal is to help an industry that’s really having a tough time, that’s a big player in our community," said Betty Capestany, Pierce County's economic development director. "But we also realize that public safety trumps that, and that we will be nimble and pivot if we need to be nimble and pivot."
The initiative comes as coronavirus cases rise toward a possible third peak in Pierce County and other parts of Washington state.
Capestany said that, if cases spike and it's deemed too risky to dine indoors, the county can convert the program to incentivize takeout orders.
"We tried to come up with contingency plans," she said. "We don’t want to have to do that, but that’s what good planners do nowadays. So we did put a mechanism in the ordinance to help with that piece of the equation."
She said restaurants will have to comply with the state's "Safe Start" reopening regulations, and many businesses have put additional safety measures in place.
Under the reopening regulations, Pierce County restaurants can operate at 50 percent capacity and with groups of no more than six people at a table.
Capestany said about 500 restaurants are eligible to participate in the restaurant rally, and about 100 have signed up as of late last week. The deadline for restaurants to apply is Oct. 23.