Orange County Awards $1,000 Grants to COVID-Safe Restaurants

August 6, 2020 Updated: August 6, 2020

The Orange County Business Council (OCBC) announced Aug. 6 the launch of SafeDineOC, a restaurant reimbursement program designed to encourage COVID-19 safety in the California county.

SafeDineOC will allocate $10 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding to help county eateries keep their customers and employees safe by providing cash grants to cover the cost of cleaning supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE), according to Andrew Do, vice chairman of the Orange County Board of Supervisors. Qualified restaurants will receive $1,000 each. 

“Many restaurants throughout the county are having challenges, understanding how to navigate the state’s guidelines,” Do said at an Aug. 6 press conference. “We understand the openings and closures have taken its toll on the restaurant industry and the dining experience alike, and we want to address both problems.”

Do said the county will be conducting a media awareness campaign to recruit more restaurants to participate in the program. As part of a concerted effort to encourage proper safety protocols in eateries during the COVID-19 pandemic, those that qualify for the grant will be featured on an OCBC “safe restaurants” website. 

“These grants reward restaurants trying to do the right thing,” said Lucy Dunn, president and CEO of OCBC. “Rewarding good behavior is what it’s all about these days.”

In order to qualify for the grant, a restaurant must meet all criteria listed on the OCBC website, including providing CARES Act-qualified purchase receipts for masks, site reconfiguration, cleaning supplies, and employee training related to COVID-19.

Restaurants can submit receipts from March 1 through Sept. 30, and apply until the end of the program, which is set to expire in 60 days or whenever the funds have been allocated.

“The reason we know this is helpful is because we’re asking restaurants to upload receipts for their supplies and masks that they’ve already spent,” Dunn said.

Once a restaurant applies, the approval process may take up to five days. If the business is approved, they can expect to receive the $1,000 check within 45 days. 

“We are hoping that these measures will help chip away at COVID-19 and help to get us as a county, to the point where we have the numbers to justify the reopening,” said Do.

The Orange County Health Care Agency on Aug. 6 reported 580 new confirmed COVID-19 cases and 32 deaths, bringing the totals to 38,711 cases and 697 fatalities.