[February 26, 2021] - Latest Updates from ORLA
Vaccination Prioritization - ORLA’s focus has been to make sure our frontline staff in the lodging industry (front desk clerks / housekeepers) and restaurant industry (consumer facing employees / kitchen staff) have the opportunity to be included in the next phase as essential workers contributing to our food supply needs and shelter needs. Governor Brown announced today during her press conference that "all other frontline workers as defined by the CDC" will be eligible for a vaccine no later than May 1. What this means is, restaurant, bar and lodging employees without underlying health conditions are eligible on May 1. However, if your hospitality staff have any underlying health conditions and are ages 45 to 64, they are eligible to get in line on March 29.
Testimony on HB 3177 - Thursday morning we had a strong showing of hospitality owners who testified in support of House Bill 3177. The bill would limit the ability of the Governor to impose harsher restrictions on specific industry sectors including food and drink establishments and fitness centers for the remainder of the Covid emergency. The bill has a big uphill climb but the sympathy and response of the committee to the arguments presented by our operators of all shapes and sizes was noteworthy. A special thanks to Greg Astley as our Director of Government Affairs for lining up a dozen restaurant owners to participate in the committee hearing.
Oregon OSHA Proposed Permanent Rule Hearings - OSHA's temporary rule expires on May 4 and since the law does not allow a temporary rule to be extended, Oregon OSHA expects to repeal the permanent rule once it is no longer needed to address the coronavirus pandemic. As a reminder, OSHA is holding hearings or for commenting on the proposed rule. This is an opportunity to share your experiences and perspectives. Virtual public hearings will be held at 10 a.m. Feb. 26, and at 5 p.m. on March 3 and March 4. The comment period will close on April 2. Click here for sample talking points.
Beverage Tax - ORLA is part of the group backed by the Oregon Beverage Alliance opposing the alcohol tax increase proposal. Legislators need to hear from Oregonians in the industry who are driving opportunity and creating good paying jobs in one of the state’s leading economic sectors. These businesses can make a powerful case to legislators about the importance of supporting – not taxing – these vital, job-creators. House Bill 3296 would increase taxes on beer and cider by nearly 3000% and increase taxes on wine by 1700%, making Oregon the highest beer, wine and spirits tax state in the nation. Join the Oregon Beverage Alliance and ask lawmakers to oppose HB 3296. Tell them:Don't Tax My Drink.
[February 19, 2021] - Three Things from Your Association
Warning Week Risk Levels - The latest County Risk Level chart from the Governor’s Office and Oregon Health Authority was released in preparation for next week’s “Movement Week,” whereby additional counties are expected to move into High Risk and lower risk levels to either gain indoor dining back or expand indoor dining they already have. We’re anticipating good news as early as Tuesday from some additional areas of the state including some of our secondary metro areas finally moving out of an Extreme Risk status.
Pacing PPP Funding Against Vaccine Distribution - Earlier this week, ORLA sent a press release out illustrating the use of Round 2 PPP funds against Oregon’s vaccination pace to showcase the importance of big picture thinking. There has been an ongoing process of decision making in a vacuum and it must be recognized that a lack of comprehensive decision making has the potential to plague Oregon’s economic recovery. Read more here.
Reminder About the Employee Retention Tax Credit - A new law makes businesses eligible for an employee retention tax credit, even if they received a PPP loan. For any calendar quarter between March 13 and Dec. 31, 2020, a business with 100 or fewer full-time employees may be able to access the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) of up to $5,000 per employee. Employers need to make sure they do not claim wages that were used for family leave, PPP or other Cares act related credits. Read FAQ.
[February 12, 2021] - Updates from ORLA
Governor’s Office - As of today, 22 of Oregon’s 36 counties have some level of indoor dining open to go with the continued open status of all lodging facilities across the state. The work to improve the operational environment for restaurants does have a positive impact on all our lodging members working hard to entice consumers to join them for overnight stays. Tuesday’s announcement on 10 additional counties opening up including the Portland Metro area resulted in significant media attention. Read our press release reacting to Governor Brown’s announcement.
Oregon Legislature - House Bill 3177 has been officially introduced in our active session of the Oregon Legislature. The bill would bring equity to the business sector and provide additional protections from government restrictions targeted at specific industries including eating and drinking establishments as well as indoor fitness and physical recreation facilities. We will keep you posted on public hearing developments. You can take action now if you have not done so already to ask your legislator to Sponsor the bill.
Mobilization Efforts - In addition to the mobilization effort for HB 3177 we are also promoting the importance of federal action in support of the Unified Restaurants Act. Additional grant relief is needed and is a real possibility for the industry. You can take action here at the federal level. As action alerts are promoted and amplified by our national partners in the lodging industry we will make sure to share those opportunities as well.
Stay informed and ready to take action by signing up for text alerts and announcements relating to our advocacy work on behalf of Oregon's hospitality industry. Text "ORLA" to 52886 or sign up online to become a Hospitality Industry Advocate.
[February 4, 2021] - Latest Updates from Your State Association
Ongoing Governor’s Office Communications
Governor Brown has enlisted her Director of Jobs and Economy Leah Horner and Leah’s Regional Solutions staff to engage our industry as well as other industry groups struggling with the combination of ongoing restrictions and changes in consumer demand. Multiple staff, including ORLA’s regional representatives, have direct communication channels with a multitude of staffers in the Governor’s Office. We fight for changes in metrics, risk levels, and our current 2-week cycle often with the goal of more flexibility and continuity for Oregon’s restaurants (some indoor dining statewide) and lodging establishments.
The Oregon Hospitality Foundation is ready to launch their new safety training videos this coming Monday, February 8. A big thanks to Wendy Popkin, OHF Executive Director, for her work on this project alongside our marketing and communication staff. We are confident the video series, Providing Service While Supporting Safety, will be incredibly helpful to our industry during Covid times. The course has two versions, restaurant and lodging, and both also come with Spanish subtitles. See the course flyer.
ORLA and the Foundation welcome Melinda Casady as our new ProStart and Workforce Coordinator. Melinda graduated from Western Culinary Institute in 1997. She worked ten years in the industry (Fiddleheads, Pazzo’s, Multnomah Athletic Club, and Oritalia being some of the highlights) and finally as a Food & Beverage Director at the Marriott before being called back to Western Culinary Institute Le Cordon Bleu to teach.
Warning Week Data from the Governor’s Office
If this week were a “movement” week, the following counties would have moved out of Extreme Risk and joined 10 other counties in Oregon that currently have indoor dining. There is a chance this coming week numbers hold on case counts and allow some or maybe all of these counties to provide indoor dining once again a week from tomorrow. Watch announcements closely this coming week on Monday/Tuesday for any developments that provide more opportunity for indoor dining as of Friday, February 12. Multnomah and Clackamas counties are really close in the latest data in getting into the “high risk” category.
[January 29, 2021] - ORLA Working to Protect, Promote and Provide Relief for Oregon's Hospitality Industry
Your statewide association has been working tirelessly this past year to advocate on behalf of Oregon's restaurant and lodging industry during the pandemic. ORLA is working to chronicle all the work done for our hospitality industry, providing an ongoing summary of advocacy work at the local, state and federal levels.
For now, take a look at the "ORLA Outcomes" to the right for a quick summary of some of the things ORLA has been fighting for to protect your business and ensure equitable treatment for foodservice and lodging accommodations. Watch for more updates online at OregonRLA.org.
ORLA Seeks Data, Evidence for Ongoing Shutdown - While the Governor’s Jan. 26 announcement provides welcome news for lottery retailers, restaurant operators with functional outdoor dining space, and hotels eager to open indoor pools and hot tubs, these modifications are not assisting operators who lack outdoor dining space.
Data across states with mask mandates shows no correlation between the number of cases and the decisions to close indoor dining. Read more here.
[January 26, 2021] - Updates to County Risk Levels
Governor Kate Brown today announced updates to county risk levels in addition to modified guidance for indoor activities to take effect January 29. Modifications include an allowance for a maximum of six people indoors at facilities over 500 square feet for all indoor activities except dining. Reach out to your regional representative as we await for detailed guidance to be posted on the Coronavirus page.
While the Governor’s announcement today provides welcome news for lottery retailers, restaurant operators with functional outdoor dining space, and hotels eager to open indoor pools and hot tubs, these modifications are not assisting operators who lack outdoor dining space. [See an abbreviated modifications chart from the Governor's Office below; view online here]
Oregon’s aggressive economic restrictions on one of the state’s largest private sector employers continues to lack data to substantiate the disproportionate sacrifices being endured by these small business operators. As ORLA highlights in today's press release, a recent analysis of December data on the status of restaurant closures across states with mask mandates shows no correlation between the number of cases and deaths and the decisions to close indoor dining.
ORLA will continue our call for a reconvened Economic Advisory Council to bring government officials, health advisors, and industry leaders together to find solutions that consider the devastating impacts prolonged restrictions are having on all of Oregon’s hospitality industry.
ORLA will share guidance on the above modifications once available (the Governor's Office stated it would be posted by Jan. 29). Please reach out to your Regional Representative with questions.
[January 22, 2021] - Update from Your Association
As our industry continues to struggle during this pandemic due to several factors contributing to unsustainable operations, ORLA remains steadfast in communicating daily with the Governor's Office on reopening Oregon's hospitality businesses. We have been urging consideration of the following:
With more counties potentially moving into the Extreme Risk category, hospitality businesses can benefit from every bit of flexibility and allowances made possible.