[June 3, 2020] - Oregon Phase Two Guidance is Finalized: Wins and the Need for More Flexibility
Today marks an important day in Oregon’s ongoing reopening process. You can review the latest guidelines announced today for Phase Two through the following links:
ORLA has been directly engaged in ongoing discussions with the Governor’s Office which resulted in the following areas of flexibility in Phase Two:
Our work continues with what I will call Phase 2.1 as there are still ongoing challenges that need to be addressed. Based on industry feedback, these are the issues that still exist that need to be fixed in Phase Two as soon as possible:
We greatly appreciate the ongoing working relationship with the Oregon Health Authority and the Governor’s Office and look forward to addressing our ongoing needs as an industry as counties begin preparing for the Phase Two reopening process.
[May 18, 2020] - Commitment to Safety
Our state has officially taken steps to reopen portions of our economy previously closed including restaurants and bars in most areas. Announcements this past week from Governor Brown and the official website for all industry guidance documents can be viewed on the state's website. This page will serve as the digital headquarters in the months ahead and assist you in understanding where your county is in the phased reopening process.
It is one thing to have the legal ability to reopen and another thing entirely to instill confidence in the minds of your guests. According to data from Nielsen, about 1 in 5 have returned to on premise dining as outlets continue to reopen on a limited basis. And of those who have not yet returned, nearly half say they need to feel more comfortable visiting.
It is our responsibility at ORLA to make sure hospitality operators have every tool available to them to showcase our industry’s commitment to safety. To that end we are launching comprehensive checklists for both restaurant and lodging operations. These checklists can be utilized by ORLA members as a way to review all details of your operations and earn a Commitment to Safety Seal you can prominently display for both customers and employees.
We want to do everything possible to assist you in finding a path forward. It is going to be a challenge in the months ahead to survive on a fraction of the demand for your business you once enjoyed. We believe this tool can make a significant difference in your path to recovery.
ORLA’s regional representatives are here to help. Please reach out so they can assist you in your work to do everything you can to provide a safe and welcoming environment for your employees and your guests.
Thank you and our best to you and your team as we ramp back up to showcase what it means to serve Oregon hospitality.
[May 8, 2020] – This Week’s Updates
Yesterday, Governor Brown announced plans to begin reopening portions of Oregon’s economy that have remained closed for almost 2 months including dining rooms in bars and restaurants. In order to reopen, county governments must submit their plans to the Governor’s Office for approval. Representatives from the Oregon Health Authority referenced a commitment to a quick turnaround for county plans submitted with the expectation many counties will have the opportunity to reopen previously closed parts of their economies as early as Friday, May 15.
Lodging facilities, which were never closed by statewide order, continue to be devastated by decreases in demand. Due to marketplace dynamics and actions taken by local jurisdictions, regulations across Oregon differ for lodging establishments. Popular leisure travel destinations including Oregon’s north coast and Columbia River Gorge continue to deal with additional restrictions at the local level. Having said that, lodging facilities in general remain open for business travel with others determining plans for reopening after voluntary closures. The American Hotel & Lodging Association has launched the “Safe Stay” initiative to provide guidance to lodging operations moving through reopening procedures. In addition, lodging providers can access final employer guidelines specific to Oregon here. See specific guidance for outdoor recreation organizations here.
Restaurant, bars, breweries, tasting rooms, and distilleries were all given the go ahead to open in Oregon’s Phase One plan. Timelines associated with opening these hospitality businesses will be contingent upon the approval of county plans. Some counties will have their plans reviewed by the Oregon Health Authority as early as today, May 8 which paves the way for a potential May 15 opening. ORLA was successful in advocating for the removal of an initial plan to have foodservice operators document the movements of their customers. In addition, there was agreement to remove the percentage space requirement emerging in many states which caps capacity at levels from 25 to 50% of maximum occupancy. In Oregon, there is no such requirement. Operators will be required to ensure physical distance of 6 feet between associated parties of 10 or less. You can view the final guidance for Oregon’s foodservice and beverage industry here. Arbitrary restrictions including a 10pm cutoff for dining room services in Phase One as well as partial opening of barstools/bar seating in specific scenarios continue to be industry concerns we hope to address in Phase Two guidelines.
There is a great deal left to accomplish. In the coming weeks, we will be:
If you haven’t already, make sure we have the best email address for you as an industry operator. In addition, you can sign up for ORLA text message alerts (by texting ORLA to 52886) so you have the intelligence we gather in real time.
[May 1, 2020] - This Week's Updates
[April 30, 2020] - Making Progress Towards Reopening, More to Be Done
Friends of Oregon Hospitality -
Throughout the month of April, ORLA has been focused on building momentum for industry relief efforts. We have made some progress on behalf of the hospitality industry, but more needs to be accomplished. We have also been focused on sharing your stories for Oregonians to better understand the devastating impacts of an Oregon economic shutdown and how it is felt in all corners of our state, particularly for those in the restaurants and lodging industries.
It is time to switch gears. According to the latest data from the Oregon Health Authority, we are successfully flattening the curve. And in many areas of Oregon, there is no curve to flatten.
In our last video address, we emphasized the importance of creating a framework for reopening Oregon’s hospitality industry. Trends are pointing toward reopening dining rooms, counter service operations, bars, and tasting rooms as part of a Phase One plan in Oregon. The opening of lodging operations beyond essential worker travel is also possible in Phase Two.
We want to thank the hospitality businesses across the state that have shared their recovery plans with us. Those plans have helped us to provide the industry expertise needed to push for practical reopening guidelines for that are as safe as possible for employees and customers.
In our latest communication, we outlined four industry imperatives for Governor Brown and her professional staff:
Please take a moment to view our comments in their entirety on the “COVID-19 Alerts & Resources” page. As we continue to work with the Governor’s office to develop these protocols, we will share information as soon as it becomes available to better help you and your teams prepare for this unprecedented reopening phase.
The coming weeks will prove crucial. Let’s work together to better understand the benchmarks we must meet to instill confidence in Oregonians that we have the health care capacity we need to meet demand and protect the health and safety of Oregonians, while getting serious about reopening our economy in a safe and responsible way.
[April 17, 2020] - Latest Reopening Plans from Governor's Office
Earlier today the Governor’s Chief of Staff Nik Blosser walked us through the slide deck on what an Oregon reopening framework looks like. Click the button to view the latest version (v.4) of the Public Health Framework for Restarting Public Life and Business:
The following our my takeaways from the presentation:
As a reminder, consider participating in one of our upcoming Virtual Town Halls.
[April 8, 2020]
Yesterday, Governor Kate Brown issued Executive Order 20-14 aligning Oregon’s current dine-in prohibition with thousands of other closed businesses across the state under Oregon’s ‘Stay Home, Save Lives’ order. Drive through, takeout, and delivery services remain optional for restaurants interested in operating at limited capacities. Lodging operations remain open in some cases to serve accommodation needs related to COVID-19 orders issued by Brown.
Oregon has clearly been successful in flattening the curve and that is a testament to our health care industry and the work which continues across our state. I have found this resource to be more helpful than most in tracking the peaks of Covid-19 on a case by case basis across the country:
In utilizing this tool for Oregon, modeling suggests our state will experience peak demand for health care services on April 24. If you start randomly choosing other states through the tool you will find that the economically painful mitigation efforts Oregon has taken have directly helped save lives.
In reviewing the data, it seems Oregon will be better positioned than most states to continue the crucial conversation of what relaxing social distancing policies looks like. How do we turn the corner for Oregon’s hospitality businesses and our approximately 200,000 employees? What does rebuild look like and over what duration?
ORLA is committed to leading alongside other business organizations in making sure the State of Oregon relaxes social distancing policies in line with a data driven approach. If the above projection holds true, Oregon should be positioned to gradually relax some restrictions as early as May. And we certainly hope that will be the case.
It is on all of us to demonstrate how we can hold the line on Oregon’s current peak projection and continue the sacrifices we are all making as we move through COVID-19 case decline later this month. When the data forecasts showcase a reduction in second wave risk, we need to move quickly to get Oregon in a position to rebuild. I believe this state can be a leader in that race. If you have ideas of how full proof social distancing procedures could be implemented in your business, please share your thoughts with me via email, email@example.com.
[April 1, 2020]
Today, Governor Kate Brown announced a 90-day moratorium on commercial evictions across Oregon. Executive Order 20-13 represents decisive action by Governor Brown to protect Oregon hospitality businesses and assist them in planning out a path to recovery. Our goal in working with all partners is to do whatever we can to assist our state in winning the race to recovery while keeping as many Oregonians employed as possible.
Governor Brown’s executive order states “a temporary moratorium on terminations of residential and nonresidential rental agreements and evictions on the basis of nonpayment is necessary during this emergency, to protect the public health, safety and welfare of all Oregonians. The moratorium set forth in this Executive Order is temporary, with a limited scope and duration. It addresses the immediate needs identified above, pursuant to my emergency powers, but does not otherwise undermine contractual bargains, interfere with parties' reasonable expectations, or prevent parties from safeguarding or reinstating their rights. The directives of this Executive Order are appropriate, necessary, and reasonable means by which to implement the significant and legitimate public purpose of responding to the declaration of a state of emergency I issued on March 8, 2020.”
ORLA continues to advocate for ongoing relief in partnership with federal, state, and local elected leaders. To view ORLA’s relief framework and add your business to the list of supporters click here: Sign On to ORLA's Proposed Relief Efforts.
[March 30, 2020]
In this morning's video address to the industry, I cover the following updates:
In case you missed it, ORLA created a Hospitality Action & Relief Center to help connect small businesses and their employees with ongoing statewide advocacy priorities and relief outcomes. Be sure to see the list of Relief Available for Employers & Employees we are constantly updating, as well as ORLA's Proposed Relief Efforts.
With the passage of the CARES Act, signed into law March 27, new relief opportunities are now available including: Paycheck Protection Program, Employee Retention Tax Credit, Qualified Improvement Property fix, and SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan Grants. Read more on our Federal Action Taken page.
[March 26, 2020]
The following update is being provided to the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association as a result of ongoing national partnerships taking place between the National Restaurant Association, American Hotel & Lodging Association, and the Asian American Hotel Owners Association. A special thanks to Sean Kennedy, Executive Vice President of Public Affairs at the National Restaurant Association for the following summary on our nation’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”):
Last night, congressional leaders finally released the final text of their $2 trillion coronavirus rescue package. The agreement includes a dramatic expansion of unemployment insurance, a rescue fund for state and local governments, immediate cash for hospitals, and a huge pool of grants and loans for small businesses.
Passage in both chambers is all but assured – the only question is one of timing. The Senate is on a path to pass the bill this evening. Timing of a House bill remains murky. A vote Thursday night or Friday morning is likely. President Trump is likely to sign the bill very soon thereafter.
Our formal assessment of the bill is attached. Overall the bill is very strong, with many provisions that specifically reflect our Association’s asks from last week. Here are the highlights of the deal:
The measure creates a $349 billion program for the SBA to offer unique loans to small businesses (500 or fewer employees). The loan amount is based on 250% of the borrower’s average monthly payroll cost for the preceding year (provisions for seasonal employers are included), up to $10 million. Collateral requirements are waived, and the “credit elsewhere” requirements (which have slowed down the process) have been waived as well. The loan is forgiven if used for payroll costs, mortgage interest, or rent/utilities.
The agreement offers restaurant owners relief in the form of Net Operating Loss (NOL) carrybacks, delay of payment of employer payroll taxes, and an Employee Retention Tax Credit.
Qualified Improvement Property
At long last, restaurants can immediately write off costs associated with improving facilities. The QIP fix is complete.
[March 25, 2020] - To Friends of Oregon Hospitality,
The following update was provided by our friends at the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) and the National Restaurant Association. Democratic Leader Schumer released a letter to his colleagues identifying what was secured in the bill. A summary of Democratic Leader Schumer’s list is below and ORLA will be working closely with our national partners today and tomorrow as the federal package moves through crucial votes and gets finalized.
President & CEO
Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association
[March 23, 2020] - Hello Friends of Oregon Hospitality:
Today, Governor Kate Brown executed Executive Order 20-12 which requires non-essential businesses outlined in the order to close effective 12:01 am on Tuesday, March 24. Here are comments from ORLA regarding the new executive order and what it means for Oregon’s restaurant and lodging operations:
President & CEO
Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association
[March 20, 2020] - ORLA continues to take unprecedented steps to engage in every possible way on COVID-19 in support of Oregon Hospitality. In the last 36 hours, significant updates have been added online to ORLA’s website which has been redesigned to hone in on the needs of industry members looking for answers in an ever changing environment.
The following steps have been taken in the past 36 hours:
President & CEO
[March 18, 2020] - ORLA CEO UPDATE FOR OREGON'S HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY
The ORLA team is working at a feverish pitch to provide the resources and opportunities restaurant and lodging businesses need to stay engaged and make a difference as we weather this monumental storm together. We have a laser-like focus on all things COVID-19 in service to you, our hospitality industry partners. Please see below for high level updates from our recent activities over the past day as we continue moving through an unprecedented workload:
Please stay strong and utilize the skill sets available to you on the ORLA professional staff. Our Government Affairs Team and our Regional Representatives on the ground are here to serve each of you, every day, until we get through this together.
President & CEO
[March 16, 2020] - STATEMENT BY ORLA PRESIDENT & CEO JASON BRANDT
Restaurants across Oregon serve as cornerstones of our local economies employing more than 155,000 people. From urban centers to rural towns, thousands of establishments provide us with places to break bread with family, friends, and build community.
Most of us know the experience of a favorite local restaurant, filled with familiar faces and employees who know us by name. Right now, that restaurant is hurting -- and the workers and families who depend on our patronage are wondering how they will put food on the table.
Effective midnight tonight (at 12:01 a.m., March 17, 2020), Governor Brown has ordered all dining rooms across Oregon to close over a 4 week period. This decision will have immediate and immeasurable impacts on thousands of Oregon families who depend on Oregon’s restaurant industry for a paycheck. Immediate unemployment insurance relief is crucial with a removal of the one-week waiting period and removal of the search for work requirement. Additional relief needs will also prove crucial for Oregon’s broader hospitality industry and all impacted employees.
The social distancing required to slow the spread of COVID-19 means we need to temporarily change our lives, especially around our favorite gathering spaces as recently announced by Oregon Governor Kate Brown and many health experts from around the world. Oregonians must not forget about the families and workers whose lives depend on restaurants, bars, wineries and brewpubs during this time. They need our support, and that is why our industry is mobilizing to expand take-out and delivery options to serve our customers over the coming weeks. If we can't eat out, now is the time for Oregonians to order in.
We must stay resolved and committed to the important role of hospitality to our economy, culture and everyday lives. Once these social isolation measures lift, Oregonians all share a collective responsibility to do our part to quickly return to our favorite gathering spots and put paychecks back onto the kitchen tables of hundreds of thousands of Oregon families who may not get one over the coming months.
[March 12, 2020] - ORLA CEO UPDATE FOR OREGON'S HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY
The Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association (ORLA) exists to protect, improve, and promote Oregon hospitality. We find ourselves in an incredibly challenging situation as our industry works to mitigate panic around the growing concern of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Oregon and throughout the country.
As of last night, Governor Kate Brown has declared a ban on gatherings of 250 people or more in Oregon over the course of the next 4 weeks. This will undoubtedly have an immeasurable impact on industry employees and business operations. ORLA will continue to keep lines of communication open with the Governor’s office, the Oregon Health Authority, and other key leaders in our state as we work to gather data on the economic impact the coronavirus (COVID-19) threat is having and as we seek relief for impacted hospitality employees and businesses.
The following list summarizes work being conducted at ORLA on your behalf. Please save this email for reference and share as needed.
All hospitality businesses in Oregon have access to ORLA’s coronavirus resource page at OregonRLA.org/covid19. The following site represents our digital headquarters for all resource links, employer tips, safety guidelines, and decontamination services. This site will be updated regularly as we continue responding to industry needs in partnership with the National Restaurant Association, the American Hotel & Lodging Association, and the Asian American Hotel Owners Association.
ORLA’s Online Member Portal
Additional work is being put into document development for ORLA members beyond the resource page linked above. A member login and password for this section is required. Primary documents behind ORLA’s member wall in the Resource Library include template examples members can use as a starting point for how to communicate with both employees and customers. If you need access to your ORLA User Name and Password, please reach out directly to Jennifer Starr via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Advocacy on behalf of Oregon Hospitality
Your statewide association is working to make sure key elected officials understand the economic impact of decisions being made as they work in partnership with public health officials to manage the spread of the coronavirus. A term called ‘flattening the curve’ is the ultimate goal of elected leaders and public health officials. The term represents an effort to keep demand for coronavirus health care services at or below the capacity of our state’s health care system. The short term effect will directly correlate to economic loss and as such, we need to collect data now to best represent relief needs of the industry in association with our national partners. Please stay tuned as ORLA develops ongoing survey outreach in an effort to track the magnitude of the impact so we can best represent the needs of your business and your employees.
In addition, we are asking the Governor’s office for consideration against any travel bans in Oregon as well as relief for Oregon hospitality employers and employees. Focus areas for us to date include:
Stay Up To Date with Push Notifications
The situation relating to coronavirus is changing on a daily basis. As a result, we are repurposing our mobile push notifications in the short term for coronavirus updates including actions you can take to assist us at ORLA in representing your interests. Text “ORLA” to 52886 to get signed up as we work to gather economic data on industry impact and keep you apprised of the latest developments. Confidentiality relating to any data shared will be a top priority for us.
I’ll close by saying it continues to be an honor for those of us on ORLA’s professional staff to serve Oregon hospitality. We believe in the importance of integrity and transparency in all that we do and you have our commitment to continue walking alongside each of you as we collectively navigate our current challenges and those that we will face together in the future.
President & CEO
Oregon’s lodging industry continues to reel from the devastating impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. Following the Governor's announcement last week on the prohibition of large gatherings through the end of September, ORLA sent a letter to the Governor's Office seeking clarity so we can do our best to plan for changes in travel demand over the coming months. Read letter.
Local governments in many ways are direct partners of lodging establishments across Oregon. There is a direct correlation between the detrimental economic impacts felt by the lodging sector and the loss of revenue relied upon in normal times for cities and counties to balance their fiscal year budgets.
Given the cascading impact on both the public and private sectors, ORLA is asking for additional clarity and guidance on the following travel related topics:
Together we can accomplish a great deal in providing uniform communication for Oregonians seeking safety and guidance as they embrace a new normal focused on societal responsibility.
ORLA Proposes Relief Package to Help Restaurants Save Jobs, Plan for Recovery
WILSONVILLE, OR (April 23, 2020) – No other industry has suffered more employment or sales losses as a result of the coronavirus pandemic than the restaurant and hospitality industry. According to a new national survey conducted by the National Restaurant Association, ninety-four percent of Oregon restaurant operators say they have laid off or furloughed employees since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak in March. Across the nation, more than 8 million restaurant employees have been laid off or furloughed – about 2 out of every 3 restaurant employees.
“The restaurant industry and its employees have been significantly impacted by this pandemic,” said Jason Brandt, President & CEO, Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association (ORLA). “Restaurant owners have said existing state and federal relief programs will not enable them to keep their employees on payroll throughout the downturn. We’re calling on our elected leaders to take more action to save jobs and get the industry on track for recovery.”
Oregon findings from the survey include:
ORLA has assembled a list of proposed relief efforts for the Governor and the Legislature to take action on and start the long process of recovery for the restaurant and lodging industry. To date, over 255 Oregon hospitality businesses have signed on to show solidarity for the industry and urge lawmakers into action.
The National Restaurant Association conducted the survey from April 10-16 of more than 6,500 restaurant operators nationwide (owners/operators of eating and drinking places, which employ 12 million out of the total restaurant and foodservice workforce of 15.6 million).
Armed with this new research, the National Restaurant Association has a clearer picture of the severe challenges that lie ahead and has asked Congress for a focused solution on behalf of an industry that has been the hardest hit by the coronavirus mandates. The association submitted a restaurant industry "Blueprint for Recovery" that outlines how Congress can improve the outlook for our survival.
Visit OregonRLA.org to read ORLA’s Proposed Relief Efforts for Oregon’s hospitality industry and access the latest information and resources related to COVID-19.
April 20, 20 - Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association (ORLA) submitted a letter of opposition (below) to Lane County on the proposed Ordinance 20-03, requiring Lane County lodgers to accept government vouchers or payment during an emergency. ORLA believes the proposed ordinance is unnecessary and is urging Commissioners not to pass Ordinance 20-03 and work together on solutions that already exist.
We encourage lodging operators in Lane County to to submit comments on this proposal prior to the public hearing.
Join us for regional discussions during ORLA's Virtual Town Halls scheduled throughout the year.
The purpose of these calls is to provide you with the latest industry intelligence from the Governor’s Office, as well as from state and local leaders on current challenges and reopening Oregon’s businesses. We will review Public Health Guidelines, best practices, ORLA resources, and brainstorming strategies about what it looks like to start opening up Oregon’s economy again.
If you have any questions, please contact your Membership Representatives and include any questions or comments you would like considered as part of our conversations.
Upcoming Virtual Town Hall Meetings:
Monday, July 20 - 10:00-11:00 am
Washington / Columbia / Yamhill Counties
RSVP to Greg Staneruck
Tuesday, July 21 - 3:00-4:00 pm
Coos, Curry, Douglas, Deschutes, Jackson, Jefferson, Josephine, Klamath, and Lane Counties
RSVP to Terry Hopkins
Wednesday, July 29 - 2:00-3:00 pm
Clatsop, Tillamook, and Lincoln Counties
RSVP to Greg Staneruck
Recent Virtual Town Hall Meetings
If you missed a town hall and would like to watch/listen to the recording, please contact Glenda Hamstreet at GHamstreet@OregonRLA.org.
Wednesday, April 22 – 9:30-10:30 am
Washington / Columbia / Yamhill Counties
RSVP to Greg Staneruck
Wednesday, April 22 – 1:30-2:30 pm
Baker City / Eastern Oregon
RSVP to Steve Scardina
Thursday, April 23 – 11:00 am-12:00 pm
RSVP to Steve Scardina
Thursday, April 23 – 2:45-3:45 pm
Coos, Curry, Douglas, Deschutes, Jackson, Jefferson, Josephine, Klamath, and Lane Counties
RSVP to Terry Hopkins
Friday, April 24 – 9:30-10:30 am
Benton / Linn Counties
RSVP to Greg Staneruck
Wednesday, May 13 – 9:30-10:30 am
RSVP to Greg Staneruck
Wednesday, May 13 – 3:00-4:00 pm
So. Oregon, South Coast
RSVP to Terry Hopkins
March 18, 2020
Contact: Glenda Hamstreet, Executive Coordinator
Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association
Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association responds to COVID-19 impacts on restaurant and lodging industries
Wilsonville, OR. – In light of increasing concerns around the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and recent executive orders from the Governor’s office, the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association (ORLA) is making every effort to address challenges facing the restaurant and lodging industry.
The lodging and foodservice industry is the second largest private-sector industry in Oregon behind healthcare and is one of the hardest hit by coronavirus-related shutdowns and policies. ORLA represents approximately 2,600 members, including over 10,220 foodservice locations and more than 2,000 lodging establishments in Oregon.
“The social distancing mandates put into place by the Governor are an important step toward ensuring the health and safety of all Oregonians,” ORLA President and CEO Jason Brandt said. “However, we cannot forget about the many families and workers whose lives depend on restaurants, lodging operations, bars, wineries and brewpubs. The foodservice and lodging industries are already seeing unprecedented numbers of layoffs as restaurants temporarily close their doors and hotels see significant declines in occupancy.”
ORLA is encouraging Oregonians to support local restaurants and hotels by ordering takeout or delivery or by purchasing gift certificates.
“Now is the time for our state to support local restaurants and hotels. If we can’t eat out, now is the time to eat in,” said Brandt. “Our industry is resilient and will get through these trying times, but we will need the help of our customers and state and local officials to do so. When purchasing gift certificates for hotels and restaurants, make sure the cash from your purchase is being received immediately by the business so they can save as many jobs as possible.”
For many restaurants, the only viable option following the Governor’s executive order was to temporarily close and lay off staff. ORLA is making every effort at this time to ensure workers and restaurant owners have the relief they need to protect jobs and ensure they are able to re-open their doors once the COVID-19 restrictions have passed.
“Our entire team at ORLA is working around the clock with state and local officials to facilitate job protection and business continuity. We have open lines of communication with the Governor’s office, the City of Portland and other public officials to work toward solutions that will mitigate the economic impacts the industry is facing at this time,” said Brandt.
In the past two days, Brandt has participated as an active member of the Governor’s Coronavirus Economic Advisory Council and presented comprehensive testimony alongside Director of Government Affairs Greg Astley to the Joint Special Committee on Coronavirus Response.
Media can obtain a copy of the comprehensive report here: COVID-19 Economic Impact on Oregon Hospitality Industry
Over the last month, hotels have seen steep declines in occupancy as events are cancelled and guests are cancelling travel plans. Travel in the Portland area is reported to be down 50% already in March and one hotel in Bend reported a loss of $600,000 in one week this month.
“If lock downs and shelter in place are put in effect, it is important the Governor, City Officials and the Legislature look at hotels as ‘Essential Services’ for planning purposes,” said Brandt. “People who are traveling or stranded will need accommodations.”
Nationally, COVID-19 is expected to result in a loss of 2.8-3.4 million jobs in the hotel industry and a decline to 25% occupancy nationwide. By comparison, the recession of 2001 and 9/11 saw 400,000 jobs lost and a decline to 59% occupancy, while the recession of ’07-’09 saw 470,000 jobs lost and 54% occupancy.
“Everyone in the hospitality industry is struggling right now. Many hotels and restaurants are having to lay off employees due to a loss of business. It is vital that federal, state and local authorities make every effort to protect those who depend on the industry for their livelihood. The need for a collective sense of urgency in driving relief solutions for small businesses and employees cannot be overstated,” said Brandt.
ORLA will continue to provide comprehensive updates and resources for the restaurant and lodging industries on their website through the duration of the pandemic: https://www.oregonrla.org/covid19_info.html.
At their most recent meeting, the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association (ORLA) Board of Directors voted unanimously (with 1 abstention) to support a legislative bill which will originate from Governor Brown’s office in support of a permanent 1.8% statewide lodging tax rate during the 2020 Oregon Legislative Session. Revenue raised by the statewide lodging tax is invested in Travel Oregon’s efforts to strengthen the economic impact of our state’s tourism industry. Oregon’s statewide lodging tax is currently collected at a rate of 1.8% with a reduction in the rate scheduled to take effect as of July 1, 2020 to a permanent rate of 1.5%.
“We appreciate Governor Brown’s proactive outreach to meet with ORLA and some of our key lodging stakeholders in person to discuss the merits of keeping the statewide lodging tax rate at 1.8% permanently,” said Jason Brandt, President & CEO of ORLA. “Our goals for lodging tax rate structures in Oregon are two-fold – protecting all statewide lodging tax resources to create return on investment for the industry through the efforts of Travel Oregon and protecting local lodging tax reforms passed in the 2003 Legislative Session.”
Oregon continues to experience healthy growth in tourism spending logging our ninth consecutive year of industry growth in 2018. Compared to 2017, visitor spending was up 4.2% reaching a record $12.3 billion. Industry employment was also up year over year by 2.9% to approximately 115,400. Year over year, hotel room revenue increased by 4.4% as well.
“We have seen firsthand what strategic investments in tourism promotion can do when industry tax dollars are put to their most effective use,” said Brandt. “With many other competing priorities in the Capitol, it is essential the association protects the appropriate use of these dollars at both the local and state levels. The economic impacts we are seeing are significant not just for our industry but for our public sector partners as well.”
The U.S. Travel Association tracks statewide economic impact throughout the country and assists states in quantifying the value of year over year tourism growth. The most recently available data notates Oregon’s tourism growth at 5.3% when comparing 2016 to 2017, further substantiating the value of healthy tourism growth for Oregon’s public sector. From 2016 to 2017, Oregon experienced visitor spending growth of $652 million. That increase in spending and associated payroll income tax increases equates to as many as 410 firefighter positions, 380 police officer positions, or 380 teacher positions.
ORLA continues to focus on the protection of local lodging tax dollars for tourism promotion and tourism related facilities in addition to support given to Governor Brown’s upcoming legislative bill for the statewide resource. Oregon’s local lodging tax structure can be complicated with over 110 different city and county jurisdictions collecting a transient lodging tax outside of the 1.8% statewide tax. Important guidelines have been in place for the past 16 years for how local lodging tax dollars can be spent. To clarify those parameters, ORLA recently produced a new instructional video to assist all stakeholders and the general public in better understanding the rules which govern local lodging tax resources.
The new video specific to local lodging taxes (not to be confused with Oregon’s 1.8% statewide lodging tax) can be viewed here:
For more information about the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association’s policies on transient lodging taxes, please reach out to Greg Astley, ORLA’s Director of Government Affairs, at email@example.com via email.
[updated December 2019]
A federal spending bill passed in 2018 abolished a 2011 regulation prohibiting tip pooling; managers can now require that servers share tips with kitchen staff in states where employers do not take a tip credit. This change allows tip sharing among both customarily and non-customarily tipped employees in Oregon, including dishwashers and cooks. Managers, supervisors, and owners cannot participate in the tip sharing. A proposed rule to implement the change has been released as of October 7, 2019; comments were due by December 9, 2019.
One thing this proposed rule seeks to address is that the words “supervisor” and “manager” were not defined in the 2018 spending bill. This is especially important to our industry since many have hybrid approaches to their service positions. Supervisors and managers in some of Oregon’s smallest restaurant operations commonly serve guests and have participated in front-of-the-house tip pools as a part of a team approach to foodservice.
Employers are to use the “duties test” to determine who qualifies as a supervisor or manager, and establish tip pool eligibility. Essentially, if an employee’s primary or regular duty is not management or supervising, they are still allowed to participate in a tip pool. For details on the standard of the “duties test,” read the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Field Assistance Bulletin.
Prior to this change, the decision to participate in a tip pool was left to employees. For more context on the issue, check out Tipping the Scales (Oregon Business, April 2018). The Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) FAQ may answer any additional questions regarding tips at Oregon.gov/BOLI.
Restaurant Employee Compensation Tools
With tip pooling being legal with back of the house employees, employers may have questions about what their options are. ORLA launched a Restaurant Compensation Solutions Workgroup to review tools being implemented in restaurant operations across the state, including mandatory service charges, tip pooling policies based on sales that assist in compensating kitchen staff, and dual tip lines notating tip options for both servers and kitchen staff.
Tip pooling policies should be carefully reviewed with counsel before implementation to ensure compliance with all applicable requirements. For more on this subject, click the links below.
For additional questions, contact Greg Astley, Director of Government Affairs, at 503.682.4422.
This is for general informational purposes only. The information is not, and should not be relied upon or regarded as, legal advice. Please consult with your legal advisors.
Compliance extension and clarifications to single-use plastics
Ordinance No. 189537 – passed 6/5/2019; effective 7/5/2019
The City of Portland extended the compliance date for their restrictions on single-use plastics, moving the date from July 1, 2019 to October 1, 2019. They intended to give businesses more time to adjust given the impact of SB 90, which preempts local code.
It also clarifies that plastic utensil self-service stations for restaurants with counter service will still be allowed. There is also an exemption for plastic serviceware that is attached with a beverage container by the manufacturer (e.g. juice boxes), or when an ingredient like salad dressing is packaged with single-use plastic. All meals provided as a social service to vulnerable populations are exempt.
For online orders, dining establishments must coordinate with third-party ordering services to allow for the customer to request plastic serviceware. Compostable and biodegradable plastic are included in the definition of single-use plastic and are banned, but non-plastic material serviceware is allowed.
Short-term rental registration requirements
Ordinance No. 189557 – passed 6/12/2019; effective 7/12/2019
After stalled negotiations with Airbnb and low compliance rates for short-term rental permitting, the City of Portland is following the lead of the City of Santa Monica, CA, which recently had its ordinance affirmed by the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. This ordinance states that home sharing platforms must either reach a pass-through registration data-sharing agreement with the City, or they can choose hosts from a registry of City-approved and permitted rental locations.
No transaction can be completed and no fees can be collected by the home sharing platform unless the short-term rental is on the City registry, or if the home sharing platform has come to an agreement with the City on pass-through registration data-sharing.
Home sharing platforms will be charged $1,000 per illegal booking transaction per day.
Pacific Power has announced a new policy of proactively shutting down power if conditions warrant it, in an effort to prevent wildfires. "Public Safety Power Shutoffs may occur with little warning and last for several days. It is currently unknown when these outages may occur; our only indication from Pacific Power is that they will occur during instances of significant wildfire danger (hot, dry, and windy days)," as stated by Hood River County Health Department in a memo to all Licensed Facilities in Hood River County.
The areas affected include Josephine County in southern Oregon (Roseburg, Medford, Grants Pass) and Hood River.
In Hood River County, health officials announced that food establishments may not operate during prolonged power outages. Within 4 hours of losing power, all food establishments shall cease operating and serving food to the public. Even if a food establishment has a generator, without formal written approval from the County Health office (in advance), no food establishment may operate during a prolonged power outage. Actions may be taken to protect inventories; however, any food exposed to temperature abuse shall be discarded.
Pacific Power has stated:
1. They will alert account holders 3-7 days out when possible
2. They will alert account holders 48 hours in advance, then 24 hours, then 2 hours and then one hour in advance whenever possible
3. Conditions will have to be sustained and will include:
If you have questions, please contact Hood River County Health Department directly:
For more information, download the memo from Hood River County Health Department.
The Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association (ORLA) has hired Nicole Peterson as its new Government Affairs Coordinator. Peterson will be the new steward of the Portland Kitchen Cabinet and its steering committee, focusing on grassroots engagement with restaurateurs and supporting their community building efforts.
“We are excited to have Nicole join our team at ORLA to add crucial capacity for our ongoing work in the Portland restaurant marketplace. Business models and paths to sustainability are changing rapidly and there are many opportunities to bring the strengths of restaurants to more Portland community conversations,” said Jason Brandt, President & CEO.
Nicole previously worked as a Research Assistant for a state and local government affairs team in Illinois and worked on a variety of issues from happy hours to baseball stadium renovations. Since moving to Oregon, she has worked in local government, giving her a broader understanding of the issues from the governing body perspective. She received her bachelor’s degree in Social Policy from Northwestern University.
In her new role with the Portland Kitchen Cabinet, Nicole relishes the opportunity to help Portland restaurants and the broader community gather, collaborate, and flourish by providing more opportunities for community engagement and advocacy for the industry. This group of informed, active and motivated hospitality community members serve as industry ambassadors with policymakers, opinion leaders, community leaders and partner organizations. With more than 100 members, the Portland Kitchen Cabinet is a proud partner of the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association and the National Restaurant Association.
On June 30, the Oregon Legislature officially came to a close. The 2019 session was marked by hyper-partisanship, two walkouts by Senate Republicans and dozens of new laws affecting the hospitality industry. Several key bills will affect how restaurants and lodging properties conduct business in the near future. Watch for ORLA's full recap of the session coming soon to the Advocacy page.
Here are a few quick updates:
HB 2005 – Paid Family and Medical Leave
SB 90 – Plastic Straws on request
Plastic straws in restaurants are now only available “on request” unless a customer is using the drive through and then employees may ask the customer if they would like a straw. Effective as of June 13, 2019.
HB 2509 – Plastic Bag Ban
Single use disposable plastic bags are banned from restaurants and grocery stores. Retailers may charge for paper bags. Effective date is January 1, 2020. Read HB 2509 Enrolled.
HB 3137 – Collection of local lodging taxes by Oregon Department of Revenue
Provides that transient lodging tax becomes due when occupancy of transient lodging with respect to which tax is imposed ends. This bill will help eliminate the issue of properties collecting and remitting the lodging tax to the state and then if a customer cancels, having to go back and recover the lodging tax paid in order to refund the customer the tax. Effective date January 1, 2020.
SB 248 – Increase in certain fees charged by OLCC
Fees for OLCC licenses will double effective July 1, 2019. Negotiated separately from this bill is the option to renew an OLCC alcohol license every two years instead of annually.
Discussions on Cannabis Tourism and Licensing Fee Increase
On a quarterly basis, ORLA has the opportunity to participate in meetings with the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) to address issues impacting our industry. As members often have questions relating to licensing and other liquor or marijuana issues, ORLA appreciates the open lines of communications with the agency and the Commissioners.
At a recent OLCC Commissioners meeting, ORLA presented on cannabis tourism and the challenges our industry faces with OLCC licensees not being able to host cannabis events on site without giving up their OLCC license. Executive Director Steve Marks clarified that OLCC licensees are not able to hold cannabis-related events as the agency has defined a licensee’s entire property as being part of the license.
ORLA asked for consideration and discussion around the issue as cannabis-related tourism is a growing segment of the industry. Commissioner Matt Maletis reinforced the opportunities available to cannabis-related tourism and expressed his appreciation for ORLA addressing the issue.
At the request of Governor Kate Brown for the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC), SB 248 was introduced which would increase all licensing fees including those for breweries, wineries, distilleries and retailers. The increase is needed to upgrade technology and software for the agency to help increase efficiency and productivity. ORLA has been in discussions with the OLCC about the increase and received assurances from the agency that as part of the increased fees, OLCC would make a change in administrative rules to allow for two-year licenses.
The two-year license is something ORLA has heard members are interested in to help them save time and money by only having to apply for renewals every two years instead of annually.
There would be exceptions to the two-year license offering which may include first-time applicants and applicants who have had a violation in the last 12 months. Details are still being worked on at this time and ORLA will share updates with members as they come.
If you have questions relating to OLCC licensing or other issues, feel free to reach out to me at Astley@OregonRLA.org. | Greg Astley
[Update May 7, 2019]
Menu Labeling Compliance Guideline
Today marks the first anniversary of menu labeling compliance and begins official enforcement of the law. Restaurants with 20 or more locations operating under the same name, should currently be complying with menu labeling regulations. However, during the past year, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) focused on education and worked with establishments to help them comply with the menu labeling regulations.
The National Restaurant Association developed resources to help members understand the regulations and comply; download the Menu Labeling Compliance Guide.
[Posted May 7, 2018]
Menu Labeling Regulations Effective
The final rules for menu labeling apply to restaurants and similar retail food establishments if they are part of a chain of 20 or more locations, doing business under the same name, offering for sale substantially the same menu items and offering for sale restaurant-type foods. Read the latest update on guidance for the rule: FDA Finalizes Guidance to Help Food Establishments Meet Menu Labeling Requirements.
The FDA has stated their intention to educate restaurants and foodservice establishments during this first year of implementation without issuing penalties.
In May 2017, based on comments received, FDA is extending the compliance date for menu labeling requirements from May 5, 2017 to May 7, 2018. This extension allowed for further consideration of what opportunities there may be to reduce costs and enhance the flexibility of these requirements beyond those reflected in the final rule. For more information see, the Federal Register Notice Announcing the May 7, 2018 Compliance Date.
See also National Restaurant Association's issue paper on Menu Labeling.
NOTE: This position statement was drafted by local restaurateurs and foodservice operations doing business in Hood River County and as a result reflects the official position of our statewide association on their behalf.
Hood River County needs a solution to their budget shortfall, but this is an ill-conceived way to do it. There is still a three-year runway to find a financial solution and this measure is fundamentally flawed. Measure 14-66 is bad for Hood River County for the following reasons:
Bad for Businesses
- Entire tax burden carried by just one business segment – this is not a fair tax.
- Restaurants are seasonal and already struggle in the winter.
- Already hit by massive cost increases from higher minimum wages and unequal share of business property taxes.
- Restaurant sales taxes are shown to shift demand to large corporate chains and grocery stores, hurting local restaurants and farms.
- Tax is complex and hard for small restaurants to implement and comply with.
Bad for Workers
- Will reduce overall income and overall employment opportunities.
- Will reduce tip income as customers will tip less to offset additional tax cost.
- Restaurant employees already struggle with affordable housing and this will compound that, especially in winter months.
Bad for Residents
- Residents will shoulder most of the tax burden as they eat in restaurants all year long. Tourism is only a factor for a few months of the year.
- Residents want to support and access local farmers and locally sourced food. This tax creates a headwind for that.
- Restaurant sales plummet during economic downturns, making this an unstable source of income for the county.
Let’s ask Hood River County to bring a fair and sustainable option for raising these funds.
Business Association Letter to the Revenue Committees
The Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association is one of 22 business associations who signed the following letter submitted to the revenue committees on March 21, 2019.
As representatives of Oregon’s leading private-sector employers, we recognize that the Legislature intends to pass significant new taxes this year, most of which will fall on Oregon’s businesses, small and large.
As we consider tax proposals, our organizations will be guided by the following principles:
The Oregon Legislature is considering HB 3023 which will create statewide standards for rideshare companies, drivers, and vehicles in Oregon. ORLA supports this bill as it sets standards for driver background checks, vehicle safety, and insurance - important factors in providing affordable and safe transportation options.
Oregon’s lodging tax investments could be drastically reduced if Senate Bill 595 passes.
If successful, SB 595 would eradicate the critical lodging tax reforms of 2003 by taking 30% of our industry’s 70% of any new or increased lodging tax implemented since July 2, 2003, and allowing local governments to redirect those funds for “affordable workforce housing” projects. The result would allow only 40% of new or increased local lodging taxes to be protected for tourism promotion and tourism-related facilities.
ORLA was at the table in November supporting Measure 102, giving communities across Oregon greater flexibility to create the workforce housing they need. ORLA continues to be willing and ready to engage in productive conversations about alternative solutions that can benefit communities and foster economic development without targeting one industry.
The Senate Committee on Housing held a public hearing for SB 595 on February 18. We need lodging industry members to take action now!
Email members of the Senate Committee on Housing and tell them how important the 70% protections are to growing Oregon’s tourism economy. Urge them to consider alternatives to workforce housing initiatives.
• Senator Shemia Fagan, Chair: firstname.lastname@example.org
• Senator Dallas Heard, Vice-Chair: email@example.com
• Senator Jeff Golden, Member: firstname.lastname@example.org
• Senator Tim Knopp, Member: email@example.com
• Senator Laurie Monnes Anderson, Member: firstname.lastname@example.org
Read more about the bills ORLA is engaged and/or tracking this session at OregonRLA.org/billtracking.
If you have any questions on this bill, please reach out to me via email at JBrandt@OregonRLA.org or call me directly at 503.302.5060.
House Bill (HB) 2020, the “Cap and Trade” bill, would raise prices on users of natural gas which include restaurants, lodging properties and manufacturers around the state. This legislation could increase the cost of living for Oregonians by $50 to $125 a month, give appointed officials the authority to increase taxes without a vote of the people or Legislature and drive thousands of jobs away from the state.
Oregon is one of the lowest carbon emitting states in the nation, and we’re getting lower. We just enacted ground-breaking new climate policies on transportation and electricity generation, we should give these new laws a chance to work.
Without an exemption for natural gas, hotels and restaurants will pay significantly more money. Along with increases in minimum wage, paid sick leave and possibly paid family leave, the hospitality industry is being crushed under over-burdensome regulations and there is no sign it’s going to end anytime soon.
Please consider emailing members of the Joint Committee on Carbon Reduction and let them know you oppose HB 2020 which will hurt your business and increase prices to customers. Urge them to Vote “No.”
To submit testimony to Joint Committee on Carbon Reduction:
ALERT 2.12.19 - The Joint Committee on Carbon Reduction announced four public hearing dates for House Bill 2020 - tell your lawmakers that we can’t afford cap and trade.
ORLA encourages restaurants and hotels to testify at the hearings about how this would impact their operations. More information about the proposal as well as talking points are available upon request. If you are interested in providing testimony, contact Greg Astley, ORLA Director of Government Affairs, at 503.851.1330.
The joint committee will host public hearings where Oregonians will be able to voice their opinions and ask questions about the bill. Additionally, there will be a public hearing on February 25 where the Salem-based committee will accept live, remote testimony from around the state.
Reasons to Oppose House Bill 2020: Cap and Trade:
The five dates and locations are listed below:
These feedback opportunities are in addition to two public hearings on February 15 and 18 in Salem before the committee.