COVID-19 Updates for Fifth Group Team Members

Updated: July 10, 2020 at 4pmCLICK HERE to view a 7-10-2020 message for Fifth Group Restaurants and Bold Catering & Design from Partner Robby Kukler. New COVID FAQs are now located in Section 1 below. If you’d like taxes taken from your unemployment benefits, see Section 2 for details.

We want to touch base with the entire FGR Family and let you know that we’re thinking about each and every one of you as we work through this unimaginable time in our country’s history. We know there’s high levels of anxiety and uncertainty about the unknown and not having any control of your future. We understand these feelings completely because every one of us is in the same place. All the plans that were put into place regarding how our company could deal with hard times never covered a situation like this. Even our worst case scenarios didn’t include a thriving company of 27 years going to zero sales overnight. But we are a strong company full of hard-working, high-spirited, get-it-done people and we will make it through all of this together. Please know we working very hard on a number of different of different initiatives.

Please take care of yourselves and one another as you always have and know that we are here to help you in any way that we can. Please continue to be on the lookout for text and email updates.

We will continue to update this page with new information as it becomes available and feel free to email questions to employeerelations@fifthgroup.com

Stay safe,

Robby, Steve, Kris and Stuart

 

The FAQs below are broken down into three sections 1) COVID-19 2) Employment, Payroll & Benefits 3) External Resources 4) Restaurant/BOLD Operations

 

SECTION I. COVID-19
Q: How can I prevent the spread of COVID-19?
A: Social distancing (maintaining a distance of 6+ feet from other people), frequent hand washing, wearing a mask or face covering and regular disinfection of surfaces are the best ways to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.
Q: Why is it important to wear a mask?
A: Wearing a mask reduces the risk of transmitting COVID-19. This is a respiratory virus that is transmitted through droplets released when an infected person sneezes, talks, breathes or coughs. A mask – whether cloth, surgical or N95 respirator – serves as a physical barrier to reduce the spread of those droplets. Since this virus can be transmitted by people who are not showing any symptoms, everyone should wear a mask when interacting with other people, especially when a distance of 6 feet cannot be maintained.
Q: But I heard masks don’t work. Is that true?
A: Initially, CDC guidance did not recommend wearing masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19. At the time, scientists did not yet know the extent to which people without symptoms could spread the virus. CDC guidance has since been updated to recommend wearing masks for anyone when interacting with other people, especially when a distance of 6 feet cannot be maintained. This is a new virus, and the scientific community is learning more about it every day, so guidance is subject to change based on new research.
Q: Why isn’t every employee in the company getting tested before coming back to work?
A: Until there is readily available rapid testing with immediate results, it does not make sense for an employee to get tested, wait 2-5 days for the results and then go back to work, because they could have contracted the virus in the 2-5 days while waiting for the results. The CDC recommends testing primarily based on exposure and symptoms.

Self-monitoring for symptoms is the best way to proactively prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Q: How should I self-monitor my health?
A: Monitor for fever, dry cough or trouble breathing. (A fever is technically defined as 99.9° F or higher, but keep a temperature log to assess what your normal body temperature is for you and note any deviations.)

Also look out for additional symptoms including a new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, stomach issues, muscle pain or chills.

Q: What does the term “close contact” mean?
A: Close contact is defined by the CDC as being within approximately 6 feet (2 meters) of a COVID-19 case for a prolonged period of time (generally understood as 15 consecutive minutes or more – straight, in a row, all at once.)
Q: How long do airborne virus particles stay in the air?
A: Coronavirus aerosols, or infectious viral particles that can float or drift around in the air, can remain in the air for up to three hours. This is another reason why masks are important in reducing the transmission of the virus – they help prevent these viral particles from spreading and hanging suspended in the air.
Q: Can you contract COVID-19 by touching a surface?
A: It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
Q: Is it safe to go back into a space after someone who tested positive worked there?
A: Yes. The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person. Sick employees are not allowed to come to work and those who test positive for COVID-19 will have to self-quarantine at home, reducing the risk of transmission from an infected individual in the restaurant.

Additionally, Fifth Group is disinfecting and deep cleaning spaces regularly as well as in response to a confirmed case in a restaurant. The CDC advises that workers without close contact with the infected person can return to work 24 hours after the sick employee last worked.

Q: Why don’t I need to be tested after I worked in the same building with someone who tested positive?
A: If you have not had close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19, you are not considered “exposed” and not required to be tested. This is another reason why social distancing and wearing a mask is so crucial to limiting exposure to and spread of infection.

You should self-monitor for symptoms such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath and notify your supervisor if you develop symptoms.

Q: If my friend was exposed to someone with COVID-19 but the friend isn’t sick, do I need to self-quarantine?
A: No. We are not excluding employees for “secondhand” exposures at this time. If you didn’t come into contact with a person who is sick or confirmed positive, you may continue to work. If the person that you were in direct close contact with develops COVID symptoms or tests positive, then please let your supervisor know and we’ll go from there. Until then, continue to self-monitor, stay home if sick, wear a mask when you can’t maintain social distance and wash your hands.
Q: Is it safer to be outside?
A: Early research indicates that being outdoors is safer than being indoors due to fresh circulating air. However, it is still recommended that you maintain 6+ feet of distance from people outside of your household while outdoors and/or wear a mask to reduce the risk of transmission.
Q: If I test positive for COVID-19, what should I do?
A: Call your supervisor and let them know. Do not come to work. Jenny Scott will reach out to you to discuss details and give guidance.
Q: What happens when someone in the company tests positive for COVID-19?
A: Fifth Group leadership will communicate to the employee’s team members to begin contact tracing, provide testing information for those who were determined to have been in close contact with the COVID-19 positive employee and give guidance on returning to work.
Q: What if I’m anxious about my team member returning to work after they have recovered from COVID-19?
A: When someone has recovered from COVID and meets the criteria for returning to work (10 days since onset of symptoms + 3 days fever free + other symptoms resolved + negative COVID test), they are no longer shedding the virus in any meaningful way.

97% of people are no longer able to infect others by the 10th day after symptom onset. The additional criteria to ensure that they are 3 days without fever and that any respiratory symptoms are resolved are meant to ensure that those 3% who might still have symptoms won’t be allowed to return when they could still spread the virus to others. Based on the data that we currently have, it’s extremely unlikely that anyone could spread the virus after meeting the criteria that the CDC have laid out for ending self-isolation and returning to work.

Q: Should I follow these coronavirus mitigation guidelines outside of work?
A: Yes. Social distancing, mask wearing and hand washing help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Your friends are just as likely to be asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19 as co-workers or restaurant guests. By following these guidelines, you are helping keep yourself and others safe, including people at risk of developing severe and life threatening complications.
SECTION II. Employment, Payroll & Benefits
Q: Are my unemployment benefits taxable? Can I have taxes taken out of my unemployment benefits?

A: A: Your benefits are taxable income. Our default upload status on this question is “NO – do not take taxes out of the payment”. If you prefer to have taxes taken out of your check, contact employee relations at employeerelations@fifthgroup.com

Q: I am on the Fifth Group health care insurance plan. How do I submit my premium payment so I can maintain my coverage?
A: Please contact payroll at payroll@fifthgroup.com for premium payment information.
Q: As a furloughed employee, should I file for unemployment?
A: No. Fifth Group is filing weekly on your behalf.

If your mailing address is correct with us, and you do not want taxes taken out of your payment, you can just sit back and wait for the pre-loaded debit card to be delivered to your home address.

If you’d like to change your address or payment info, please continue to read.

Q: What payment options for unemployment do I have? If I want direct deposit, how do I make that happen?

A: You have the option of using direct deposit or the Georgia UI Way2Go Debit MasterCard®.

Debit Card: The Debit Card will be automatically sent to you, if you do not enroll in direct deposit. If you do not receive the debit card within 15 days, you should call Georgia UI Way2Go Debit MasterCard Customer Service at 1.888.929.2460 to report the card as lost or stolen and request a replacement card.

Direct Deposit: Employees choosing direct deposit must enter their direct deposit information on the GDOL website by selecting UI Benefit Payments Method under Online Services. A personal identification number (PIN) is required. A PIN will NOT be mailed to you.

You can create a PIN following these instructions:

  1. Go to DOL.GA.GOV
  2. Select UI Benefit Payment Methods.
  3. Read the Advisory and Acknowledgement details.
  4. Select the checkbox to accept and acknowledge the terms and conditions.
  5. Skip the field labeled “If you have already set up a PIN, enter it here”.
  6. Enter a 4-digit PIN of your choice in the field labeled “If you need to set up a PIN, enter it here.”
  7. Re-enter your 4-digit PIN in the field labeled “Re-enter for verification.”
  8. Click the Continue button. (The Personal Information page will display.)
  9. Enter your Date of Birth and your Mailing Zip Code.
  10. Click the Continue button. (The Payment Information page will display.)
  11. Click the radio button for your preferred method of payment.
  12. Click the Continue button.
  13. Follow the onscreen instructions.
Q: My address must be wrong because my unemployment debit card from the DOL did not show up at my house. What am I supposed to do?

A: Here are the three things you’ll need to do:

  1. For your most recent payment on a Debit Card: If you do not receive the debit card within 15 days, you should call Georgia UI Way2Go Debit MasterCard Customer Service at 1.888.929.2460 to report the card as lost or stolen and request a replacement card.
  2. If you want future payments to go to your direct deposit: Employees choosing direct deposit must enter their direct deposit information on the GDOL website by selecting UI Benefit Payments Method under Online ServicesA personal identification number (PIN) is required. A PIN will NOT be mailed to you. If you have not already done so, you can create a PIN on this page.
  3. For all correspondence by mail, we will use the information that we have in the Paychex payroll system. Please follow the instructions presented here to login to the Paychex portal and update your address! Paychex instructions: English or Espanol.
Q: How do I check the status of my claim?
A: After FGR has uploaded the data for your first week of partial unemployment, you can check the status here: Check My UI Status
Q: Will taxes be taken out of my unemployment payment?
A: Our default upload status on this question is “NO – do not take taxes out of the payment”. If you prefer to have taxes taken out of your check, contact employee relations at employeerelations@fifthgroup.com
Q: Where do I go for additional help?
A: We want to provide as much assistance as possible, and will try to respond to individual questions as well post additional FAQ’s if circumstances warrant. Unemployment benefit decisions are made by the Georgia Department of Labor. Fifth Group does not play any role other than to provide employer data. Consequently, Fifth Group is not able to assist with wait times, Georgia Department of Labor website issues, etc.
Q: Will my time out of work count against my insurance eligibility?
A: Insurance eligibility is determined in advance of the plan year, for the plan year. Eligibility for the current plan year (April 1 – March 31) has already been determined.
Q: Will I still have $$$ paid towards my insurance by FGR while I'm not working?
A: Yes, the employee premium deducted from your gross pay is net of the FGR allowance, and this premium will remain unchanged throughout the 2020 plan year.

 

SECTION III. EXTERNAL RESOURCES
Q: I am worried about paying my rent, mortgage, utilities, cell phone, etc. What should I do?

A: In our current situation, your top priorities are keeping a roof over your head and food on your table. Once you have covered those bases, then you can triage which additional bills, like utilities, internet and credit card debt, need to be prioritized.

We will continue to share or host resources to assist with putting food on your table, i.e. our Fifth Group Farmers Market, the ACFB Mobile Pantry texts, and the #ATLFAMILYMEAL facebook group. Regarding the roof over your head and other bills, here are some additional resources and information –

As we will reiterate in most of these sections, be proactive. If you are unable to pay any of your bills on time, contact the provider as soon as possible. Don’t be an ostrich!

Renters – If you will have trouble with any of your upcoming rent payments, contact your landlord as soon as you can to discuss payment options. Evictions have been temporarily halted in Atlanta. See the details above.

Contact your landlord or property manager first, then make certain to get the details in writing.

An example approach might be:

Dear “Landlord’s Name”,

Due to the current situation, I am unable to work. Would you accept $500 for my April payment, rather than $1000? When I return to work, I will be able to pay an additional $100 per month for the next five months to cover the difference.

If your landlord refuses, you may be able to get assistance from your bank, in the form of a short-term loan. There are additional resources in the RENTERS section in the links below.

Home-Owners – Although the Department of Housing and Urban Development issued a moratorium on foreclosures and evictions for homeowners with certain types of FHA-insured mortgages, it is in your best interest to contact your mortgage holder, if you believe you will have trouble with any of your upcoming payments.

Many lenders have implemented special waivers and delayed payment options due to Covid-19. If your lender is not willing to work with you, another option is contacting your bank. Many banks have hardship loans and other instruments available due to Covid-19. Some of those links are listed below in the MORTGAGE section, along with additional options here in Georgia.

Everyone – Remember, before you simply stop paying your bills, contact the vendor. Many of the listed companies below have relief programs in place, inquire about these. We have supplied links to follow for assistance with utilities, cell service, debt relief and eviction notices, all in the sections below.

EXTERNAL LINKS RENTER ASSISTANCE:

EXTERNAL LINKS MORTGAGE ASSISTANCE:

Q: How do I get free meals delivered via ATLFAMILYMEAL?
A: ATLFAMILYMEAL, Inc. is a Georgia nonprofit, and is actively building a leadership team and raising funds to provide food, jobs, and resources for the hospitality community during this trying time. ATLFAMILYMEAL is currently providing 4 free meals a week for people in the hospitality industry currently out of work industry. Meals are being delivered on Wednesday and Friday every week. The program is growing and their goal is to expand to more days. All that is required to receive meals is to fill out this form: https://app.atlfamilymeal.org/recipient_sign_up
Q: Will The Giving Kitchen help me if I'm out of work? What if I'm sick?

A: The Giving Kitchen will continue to support food service workers with compassion and care by providing financial assistance to those in crisis due to an unexpected illness, injury, death of an immediate family member or housing disaster in Georgia. Food service workers in Georgia who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and/or those who are under doctor’s orders for a mandatory quarantine should ask for help.

https://thegivingkitchen.org/help

Food service workers experiencing hardship who do not meet these criteria may still be eligible for resource referrals through the Giving Kitchen’s Stability Network.

https://thegivingkitchen.org/what-we-do/stability-network

Follow this link for more information on the response from the Giving Kitchen:  https://thegivingkitchen.org/covid19

In addition, the Federal government is working on several programs that may apply, and we will post more details as they become available.

Q: Are there any other assistance programs I should know about?

A: In addition to the Giving Kitchen resources, we are sharing a newly created Facebook community for the local restaurant industry intended to be a place to connect and share resources. You can join an Atlanta restaurant industry Facebook group here.

In the group, several people have shared organizations that are offering assistance programs or raising money for industry workers:

Restaurant Workers Community Foundation

Bar Methods

Children of Restaurant Employees

Another Round Another Rally

In addition, the Federal government is working on several programs that may apply, and we will post more details as they become available.

 

Section IV. RESTAURANT/BOLD OPERATIONS
Q: Where does Fifth Group stand on the current unrest in Atlanta?
A: Statement from June 8: Fifth Group Restaurants stands in solidarity with all our team members, guests and the Atlanta hospitality community against injustice and inequality. Over the past few weeks, we’ve been inspired by the peaceful protests all over our city, and we’re listening to the conversations regarding the Black experience in America and in the restaurant industry with renewed focus. While respect and honoring diversity have always been part of our core values, more needs to be done to root out racial injustice in our industry and the world.

We cannot ignore the lessons of this historic moment if we want our diverse teams of hospitality professionals to thrive today and in the future. As we work to reopen our restaurants in the weeks ahead, we welcome these conversations so we can move forward into a brighter future with a vibrant, inclusive and diverse #FGRfamily.

Thank you for your continued support. 

Q: Which restaurant locations are currently open?
A: You can see our open restaurants and hours here: fifthgroup.com/open.