NOTE: ORLA's blog will be going offline for upgrades the last week in October.
[October 22, 2021] - Meals Tax Fight | Free Training | Continued Push for RRF
Local Meals Tax Fights Continue - We are neck deep in local opposition campaigns in both Cannon Beach and Newport in support of our local restaurants doing business in those communities. As you’ve heard before, we’ll most likely know later in the evening on November 2 whether either of these proposed 5% meals tax proposals pass by will of the voters. Here’s the latest media coverage from earlier this week.
Free Covid Online Training Extended – We have made the decision to extend access to the free online training we created at the association to assist restaurant and lodging operators and their staff with the challenging customer service dynamics when dealing with mask mandates across the state. We will keep these Guest Service Safety trainings (restaurant and lodging versions in both English and Spanish) available online for free through at least the end of the calendar year. Make sure to take advantage for your own operation and feel free to spread the word and share the following link so others in our industry can access this free resource thanks to a sponsorship from Anheuser Busch.
ORLA Media Event – Your state association in conjunction with several other state associations around the nation will be holding media events to continue pressing the need for restaurant revitalization funding for all eligible applicants. We want to thank Gabriel Pascuzzi, Chef & Owner of Mama Bird for stepping up and representing 2,592 restaurant businesses like his who remain out in the cold with no restaurant revitalization funding after applying for federal financial relief. We’ll do our best to make an impression in the media this coming week and keep the chorus going as we press federal elected leaders to make good on their promise.
Here for Oregon Partnership – The Oregonian is our latest sponsor of the Oregon Tourism Leadership Academy program and we want to thank Oregonian Media Group President John Maher and their Vice President of Brand and Strategic Partnerships Amy Lewin for thinking big and launching their “Here for Oregon” initiative. The Oregonian is launching this new effort to help share the good across our great state. Powered by the incredible teams and tools of The Oregonian/OregonLive, they are taking the stories created every day and building a new place dedicated to lifting and celebrating Oregon. This multi-media approach offers a custom blend of community-driven content that is distinctly Oregon. It's an extraordinary aggregate for joy, awareness, and connection across the state. Whether you live in Pendleton, Pleasant Hill or Portland, there’s a place for you here and we want to help celebrate what the Oregonian is working to accomplish. As they begin to roll out their efforts, John and Amy are inviting their community partners to join them in building, from the ground up, stories of the people, the places, the experiences and the diversity of culture and skills that inspire innovation and community. Share Oregon. “Like” and “Follow” @HereisOregon on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube Get the good stuff. Subscribe to Here is Oregon weekly e-newsletter. Show you’re here and tag good news in your community with #HereisOregon.
[October 4, 2021] - Foundation Updates | Industry Recovery Trends | OTLA
Oregon Hospitality Foundation Updates - This past week, ORLA’s Executive Director of the Oregon Hospitality Foundation Wendy Popkin announced she has accepted a new role with the Washington County Visitors Association as Vice President of Destination Sales. We hope you all join us in celebrating Wendy’s contributions to the Foundation over the past nine years. In conversations with Wendy and Foundation Board members, we are moving forward with a plan to hire two new full time positions in support of the hospitality foundation. One position will be an executive coordinator for foundation governance while also serving as our ProStart Liaison for Oregon’s 40 participating high schools. The other position will be a Workforce Development Coordinator focused on creating stronger connections between industry leaders and high school and community college classrooms – think guest speaking opportunities, job shadow coordination, career/job fair involvement, and experiential field trips. Reach out to ORLA if you know someone interested in these positions.
National Restaurant Trends - The latest economic trends in the restaurant survey based on a feedback from 4,000 restaurants across the nation. The NRA's infographic and associated letter sent to DC leadership focus on the importance of preventing new taxes on small businesses as our industry continues to grapple with the impacts of the enduring pandemic. Activity in DC continues to be touch and go and our Government Affairs team will continue keeping all lines of communication open with our partners at AAHOA, AHLA, and NRA as developments unfold.
[September 24, 2021] - Fight Against Meals Taxes / Chair's Getaway / Conference Program
Fights Against Meal Taxes Continue - The ORLA professional team led by Steve Scardina and Terry Hopkins in their regions of the state and supported by Greg Astley, Tom Perrick, and Glenda Hamstreet in our Government Affairs Department are working hard to defeat meals taxes appearing on the November ballot in the cities of Cannon Beach and Newport. Our websites for the campaigns are up and running and our success in defeating both proposals is largely dependent on our ability to keep local restaurants in both communities engaged and in the forefront. It is critical that ORLA take a back seat to the local names and faces that make up a local restaurant industry while fully leveraging ORLA’s association structure to assist our local members in fighting effectively against tax proposals when they are opposed by members in cases like this. In the past 4 years, we have successfully defeated two other restaurant tax proposals – one in Jacksonville and one in Hood River County. We hope to defeat these two tax proposals and should have results to share on November 2 or 3. Vote No Sales Tax on Meals!
ORLA Hospitality Conference Success - Earlier this week ORLA held a 2-day in-person conference for industry members at the Riverhouse in Bend. Feedback so far has been very positive, citing keynote and breakout session messages on target and insightful for the hard-hit hospitality industry. ORLA members also had the opportunity to vote in several new members of the Board of Directors. Save the date for next year's event on Sunday & Monday, September 11 and 12 at the Graduate hotel in Eugene.
Chair’s Getaway - We are off and running in creating a great experience on Oregon’s north coast for our Chair’s Getaway event on Sunday, November 7 which will be co-hosted by Incoming Chair John Barofsky and Outgoing Chair Masudur Khan. We want to take a moment to thank Shannon McMenamin and her team at the Gearhart location for working with us to put together the Reception and Multi-Course Dinner on site. Also, a big thanks to Outgoing ORLA Chair Masudur Khan for making the SaltLine Hotel available for overnight stays and our sponsors at US Foods (thanks Randy) and Pacific Seafood for their food donations. We also have America’s Hub World Tours joining us as a Transportation Sponsor this year for those who prefer a shuttle bus between the hotel and the restaurant. The Chair’s Getaway event has 50-60 people in attendance and is an opportunity to raise funds for ORLAPAC under the direction of Greg Astley, ORLA’s Director of Government Affairs. I hope you consider making a donation to ORLAPAC and join us for this great reception, dinner, and overnight stay following on November 7. Register here to reserve your seats – we expect this will sell out so act soon.
[September 17, 2021] - Win for Lottery Retailers / Vaccine Mandates / EIDL Updates
Win for Lottery Retailers – ORLA’s membership includes a segment that cares deeply about the association’s advocacy for lottery retailer issues. ORLA in partnership with many other stakeholders was able to secure a win with the Governor committing in writing to prohibit any expansion of state sponsored gambling on mobile devices with an exception for the options already available on cell phones. The following two letters spell out the request made by us and our partners to legislative leadership and the Governor’s response essentially putting a moratorium on any gambling expansions on cell phones for the duration of her term in office.
Vaccine Mandates – We expect to have our hands full in the coming months as the potential for emerging vaccine mandates continues to be debated primarily at the local levels of government outside of President Biden’s announcement this past week. We have been made aware that King County in Washington State will move forward with a vaccine mandate but has decided to again target specific businesses with the mandate as opposed to all businesses. It remains unclear how the new vaccine mandate will be enforced and how the role of restaurant and other industry operators will be defined for those industries impacted. The King County mandate will go into effect in late October. Our reports show the NYC mandate has a vaccine verification compliance rate of less than 30% meaning as many as 70% of operations were not verifying vaccine status at the door. In one of ORLA’s recent surveys we asked operators what types of mandates they would proactively comply with. Under 40% said they would comply with vaccine verification and we suspect the reason is driven by the challenges posed by putting our frontline staff in the position of asking for those verifications universally to dine indoors and the uncertainty of what happens when customers are denied indoor dining service due to a mandate.
As a reminder, we openly shared our survey results and our deep concerns about compliance rates with Multnomah County Chair Kafoury and the Governor’s Office. We’re hoping that step keeps the industry from being targeted while we continue our advocacy and support for vaccines and their importance.
EIDL Program Updates – The Small Business Administration’s Deputy District Director for Portland Sam Goldstein provided us at ORLA with the latest updates on EIDL. The SBA's COVID EIDL Program Summary serves as a review of where we are to date on EIDL expansion. Another webinar presentation is coming up on September 23; register here.
The SBA is continuing to accept loans and modification to existing loans. New applications and increases in existing loans resulting in total amounts to be approved >$500K can be submitted immediately. Decisions on requests >$500K will begin October 8, 2021.
Main Update: Increase in maximum loan amount from $500,000 to $2,000,000 (policy)
Key Changes in Effect as of September 8, 2021:
[Click the "Read More" link for archived blog updates]
[September 9, 2021] - Biden's Announcement on Vaccine Mandates / EIDL Updates / Frontline Health Care / Impact Survey
President Biden’s Announcement on Vaccine Mandates - The United States Department of Labor announced a new requirement that all personnel be vaccinated at companies with more than 100 employees. See ORLA's Announcement sent Thursday that includes a summary and find more information at Whitehouse.gov. Thank you to our partners at Oregon Business & Industry for getting this update out so quickly and giving us permission to repurpose their update for ORLA members.
Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Updates - The Small Business Administration has officially opened up broader loan offerings through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program. These changes will make a considerable difference for a number of members and represents a significant win. More detail and pertinent links can be found at SBA.gov. All of our national affiliates (National Restaurant Association, American Hotel & Lodging Association, and the Asian American Hotel Owners Association) have been very active in advocating for these changes.
Frontline Health Care Worker Support - Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) reached out today and made us aware of a new donation form they have launched given the increased demand from Oregonians asking how they can better support our frontline health care workers. The OHSU Wellness Task Force will review and approve donations within about one week and then send a confirmation email detailing next steps. If you are interested in providing meals, snacks, cards, or other items in support of OHSU’s frontline health care workers you can utilize this donation form to take action.
Coronavirus Impact Survey - Please complete this new Coronavirus restaurant impact survey. ORLA is partnering with the National Restaurant Association to gather critical data that will be very valuable to our ongoing advocacy efforts in support of RRF replenishment funding. We very much appreciate you taking the time to complete it. Please note this survey will stay open until close of business on Wednesday, Sept. 15.
Quarantine Procedures - We have had many requests from members to track down accurate information on isolation and quarantine procedures when dealing with the recent surge of the Delta variant. Find a list of resources compiled by ORLA on our Covid Resource page. We also received the following responses to questions posed to the Governor’s Office that may be helpful to many of you who are doing your best to follow protocols and common sense when a Covid case has been confirmed amongst your employee base.
[September 3, 2021] - Covid Quarantine Procedures / RRF Update (and call to action)
Covid Contact / Quarantine Procedures: ORLA reached out to the Governor's office and OHA for clarification on what to do when an employee may have been in close contact with someone confirmed to have Covid-19. The following resources were provided and we were assured the information is all up to date and accurate, even if it hasn’t been updated in a few months.
RRF Replenishment: Members of Congress have been back in their home districts for the August recess, and the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association (ORLA) and the National Restaurant Association are making sure they are hearing about the state of our industry. We are educating policymakers on the rise of the Delta variant and its impact on customer confidence in indoor dining. Ultimately, Congress needs to finish the mission and replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund. We have a national grassroots activation under way – please add your voice if you have not already.
Congress returns to Washington next week and all eyes will be on the efforts of Democrats to pass a $3.5 trillion spending bill. There are a number of ways that bill can help – or hurt – the recovery efforts of the restaurant industry. You’ll be hearing more from us soon on the actions we are taking on that front. We will continue to be focused on all legislative proposals that affect our workforce, the taxation of our industry, and our fight for fair access to recovery dollars.
[Click the "Read More" link for archived blog updates]
[August 30, 2021] - Mask Compliance Training, the Latest from the Governor's Office, RRF Replenishment, and Liquor Privatization
Guest Service Safety Training & Masks - Our training video segment to assist operators in handling our renewed mask mandates in Oregon is free thanks to Wendy Popkin, the Oregon Hospitality Foundation, and our training sponsor Anheuser Busch. The video segment on masks is part of a broader suite of videos available to assist our teammates with the ongoing challenges of providing a safe and welcoming experience in such a volatile time for everyone. In less than 10 minutes you’ll get tips to keep interactions calmer with someone who is resistant and help avoid potential confrontations. The training is available in both English and Spanish with both Restaurant and Lodging versions for your staff – this is a no brainer to take advantage of.
Latest Governor’s Office Conversations - There continues to be a broad focus in the Governor’s office in preparing for schools to reopen in the coming weeks on top of their work to expand health care capacity. The statewide mask mandates for both indoor and outdoor activity are efforts that we all hope will relieve historic pressure on Oregon’s health system. The belief is we are moving through a peak impact period from the Delta variant with forecasts still showing potential for movement in the right direction in the next few weeks. My hope is post Labor Day weekend will be a sign of things improving but we still have a tough road in dealing with the extreme toll being placed on health care workers and as you have heard time and time again, this is officially a pandemic of the unvaccinated.
RRF Replenishment Efforts - ORLA alongside the National Restaurant Association and state restaurant associations across the country continue to push for outstanding Restaurant Revitalization Fund applications to be funded. Tom Perrick on the ORLA team has been reaching out to our Oregon delegation in DC about the importance of this. Our most recent effort to secure funding for the 177,000 applications still unfunded can be viewed in this letter.
Liquor Privatization Attempt Coming - The grocery industry is hard at work in an attempt to bring liquor to the shelves of Oregon’s grocery stores. ORLA’s Government Affairs Committee has engaged in this debate a couple of times in the past decade with the industry siding with the current system over one that has resulted in price escalations and a decrease in product selection in Washington State. The backers of the effort are currently in the initial signature gathering stage which also includes a ballot title approval process. We will know more about whether the initiative effort will officially qualify for Oregon’s ballot later in 2022. The former Washington State Liquor Chair recently stated privatization was the dumbest thing they ever did. You can read more in this article as we work to bring this issue back in front of ORLA’s Government Affairs Committee.
[Click the "Read More" link for archived blog updates]
[August 20, 2021] - Breakthrough Case Analysis / Washington County Developments / ORLA Hospitality Conference / Win For Lodging
After all the volatility we have lived through as an industry it does feel almost unthinkable that we are now dealing with a surge bigger and more impactful than any other point in the pandemic. And to think – it was mostly preventable with widely available vaccines and consistent data (as included below) that proves this is a pandemic of the unvaccinated. We all have a responsibility to do everything we can to encourage those around us to get vaccinated (if they can) and share the science behind why this is so important.
Breakthrough Case Analysis - Yesterday, the Oregon Health Authority released a COVID-19 Breakthrough Case Report. Here are the bulleted highlights:
Washington Co. Developments - Washington County Commission Chair Kathryn Harrington and other elected leaders in the county had a very busy week as they considered an indoor dining ban across the entire county for everyone, followed by a pivot to allowing indoor dining to only those who can prove being fully vaccinated, and then finally acknowledging these types of efforts would be largely ineffective without a broader policy beyond the county’s borders. After a busy week tracking this and working with local Chambers and key stakeholders, we now know the county plans to focus in on enforcement of Governor Brown’s statewide mask mandate and make sure businesses within the county are following those rules. As reported this past week, Oregon OSHA Director Michael Wood is overseeing a complaint-driven enforcement plan for mask compliance with a focus on signage at businesses and employee masks.
Win for Lodging - The importance of appropriately spending local tourism tax revenue was affirmed on August 11 by the State of Oregon Court of Appeals after a case brought forth by Bend lodging operators and the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association (ORLA) against the City of Bend. The court reasoned that a local ordinance passed in the City of Bend violated ORS 320.350 by decreasing the percentage of total local TLT revenues expended to fund tourism promotion from 35.4 percent to 31.2 percent. This decision means strong protections remain in place for how local lodging tax dollars can be spent across Oregon. Read ORLA's press release.
ORLA Hospitality Conference in One Month! We are gearing up for our first in person conference in 2 years thanks to our partners at the Riverhouse in Bend who will be hosting us Sunday and Monday, September 19 and 20. Our 2-day conference is a great perk for people on your staff that have gone above and beyond for you and your company through the Covid-19 pandemic. Check out the agenda and register online. If you haven't yet made room reservations, call the hotel directly at 866.453.4480 to ask for the ORLA Conference room rate before the block is release on September 3.
[August 13, 2021] - Latest communications with Oregon OSHA on the mask mandate
ORLA had a conversation with Oregon OSHA Director Michael Wood regarding enforcement of business signage and mask wearing checkups for employees. See the latest documentation for how the statewide mask mandate will work in this Temporary Administrative Order. Note that 5(a) and 5(c) in the document will serve as the basis for enforcement.
Some important items to share:
Download OSHA's "Masks, Face Coverings, Face Shields are Required at This Location" sign for posting.
[August 3, 2021] - Industry Responds to NYC's Vaccine Requirement for Indoor Dining
New York City announced today it would begin requiring that restaurants check for proof of vaccination for any customer wishing to eat inside a restaurant. Our partners at the National Restaurant Association issued the following statement:
“The National Restaurant Association and the restaurant industry support vaccination for everyone because higher vaccination rates are our best bet for containing the spread of COVID-19. Today’s action by Mayor de Blasio will require significant changes for how restaurants are operating in the city by putting the responsibility for verifying vaccination status of employees and customers on the operator. Checking vaccination status isn’t like ID-ing a customer before serving them a drink—staff receive training on how to do that.
Now, without training, our staff members are expected to check the vaccine status of every customer wanting to eat inside the establishment. Last year when mask mandates across the country were put in place, restaurant workers suffered terrifying backlash when enforcing those rules. The Association’s ServSafe experts had to go so far as to create a Conflict De-escalation training module to support those front-of-house workers dealing with customer push-back. We hope that the city will take this into consideration and will work with us to ensure there is clear guidance and support for our workforce.”
Oregon operators should be aware that no changes have been announced to date for localities in our state.
ORLA is in regular communication with the National Restaurant Association and will continue to share crucial industry intelligence as it’s received in support of our industry operators.
If you have any questions, please reach out to your ORLA Regional Representative or Greg Astley, Director of Government Affairs.
[July 30, 2021] - Mask Mandates & Covid-19 Regulations / Oregon Jobs & Spending
ORLA is in the midst of an epic run of events which started with the sold-out ORLA Open Golf Tournament earlier this week, the launch of the second Oregon Tourism Leadership Academy class, and the Northwest Food Show this Sunday and Monday at the Portland Expo Center. We hope you can join us at the Show and take advantage of all it has to offer – or if time is limited, stop by for an hour and sample some great products. Registration is free for ORLA members ($25 at the door).
Here are the latest updates from your association:
Mask Mandates & Covid-19 Regulations - Our team is closely monitoring the impact of the CDC’s announcement this week that everyone—regardless of vaccination status—should return to wearing face coverings in certain regions across the nation with high levels of COVID-19 community spread. Several jurisdictions in other parts of the country have already announced they will mandate masks again, and we anticipate that others will in the coming days. Unfortunately, the politicization of masks may lead to conflicts in jurisdictions that mandate them. As a reminder, ServSafe has a free course on conflict de-escalation that ORLA members can utilize for staff. We learned earlier this week that at this stage Oregon OSHA has no plans to reinstitute face covering mandates. We will keep you posted on future developments.
Job Openings & Spending in Oregon - New data show the state of job openings and consumer spending in Oregon both up as of this month. With January 2020 acting as the baseline, the data shows job openings up in hospitality at a rate of 45.9%. Consumer spending in hospitality is up 7% over the same timeframe while overall consumer spending is up 13.1%. No surprise, the extent of our job opening crisis is impeding our ability to keep up with consumer spending gains across other sectors.
ENTREE Act - Last week, the House Small Business Committee Ranking Republican Blaine Luetkemeyer introduced legislation to replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF). Appropriately titled the ENTREE Act, this bill generally reflects the GOP’s preference for how to replenish the RRF.
The ENTRÉE Act will:
National Hotel Stats - Our national partners at the American Hotel & Lodging Association have compiled the following statistics which provide important perspective on the state of our nation’s lodging industry:
[Click the "Read More" link for archived blog updates]
[July 16, 2021] - ERTC Resources, Legislative Report
Don’t Leave Money on the Table! - Over 100 ORLA members registered for our Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) webinar earlier this week. ORLA members can find resources to assist in navigating the importance of ERTC and the cash infusion it can bring to our industry operations behind our online member wall (login and go to the Resource Library). You may be surprised how you can leverage both Payroll Protection Program dollars and Employee Retention Tax Credit dollars in ways the are completely above board and legal. ORLA’s Government Affairs Coordinator Tom Perrick is standing by to assist ORLA members in navigating the tools you need to maximize your cash infusion. We think you’ll find it less complicated than you might anticipate. If you have questions or need support as an ORLA member please email Tom Perrick at email@example.com. If you’re not an ORLA member yet, make it happen through the this link.
ORLA Legislative Report - The ORLA Legislative Report from Director of Government Affairs Greg Astley can be read on our Legislative Session page. The 2021 Oregon Legislative Session brought about historic challenges with no opportunity for industry stakeholders to engage in person with lawmakers due to Covid regulations. ORLA’s goal with all legislative sessions is to protect, improve, and promote hospitality. Our work this session resulted in protecting the intellectual property rights of our restaurant operators across the state, improvements in unemployment insurance rates that will be paid by lodging and restaurant employers in the coming years, and an ongoing commitment to promote the importance of a fully functioning hospitality industry which was crippled by Covid. We hope you find the summary report helpful and we want to thank both Greg Astley and Bill Perry with Balance Point Strategies for their work on behalf of the industry.
OSHA & OHA Intelligence - We expect OSHA will announce an elimination of the enhanced cleaning and sanitation protocols relating to Covid as soon as this coming Monday. ORLA participated in the second of a series of rulemaking advisory committee meetings earlier today and it is clear there is widespread support amongst the committee members to ditch the need for high frequency cleaning standards on top of robust cleaning protocols already in place in our industry as well as others. Also, please find the latest intelligence from the Oregon Health Authority on the status of Covid variants including data points on transmission and geographic penetration rates here in Oregon.
[July 9, 2021] - Golf Tournament | Cannon Beach Sales Tax on Meals | RRF in Oregon | OLCC Updates
ORLA Open Golf Tournament - We have more sponsorship revenue on the books for the golf tournament than we’ve ever had before. That is a testament to our Director of Business Development Marla McColly who continues to provide top tier leadership for the association. Our Government Affairs team is running point on lining up golf teams to make sure we have a sold out field of golfers. We have just over 2 weeks before we hit the links.
Cannon Beach Sales Tax on Meals - About 40 restaurant operators in Cannon Beach have their hands full with the 5-person City Council in Cannon Beach who decided this past Tuesday night in a 3-2 vote to move forward with a new 5% food and beverage tax on foodservice operations within the city limits. As you can all imagine, we’re floored by the rationale to impose a new tax on restaurants after the grueling reality of COVID inflicted on the industry. ORLA will be testifying along with local restaurateurs at the next meeting July 14.
RRF in Oregon - The Small Business Administration (SBA) has released their most detailed information to date on Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) applications and recipients broken down by state. 2,337 Oregon restaurants received RRF dollars totaling approximately $531 million. 4,930 applications for RRF were received by SBA from Oregon operators which means about 47% of applicants from Oregon were funded. You can view more details in SBA's RRF report.
OLCC Updates - The latest updates from the OLCC about alcohol service changes as a result of Governor Brown rescinding all of her executive orders pertaining to the COVID emergency are included in the OLCC press release. A number of important topics are covered including but not limited to alcohol delivery, to-go cocktails, liquor liability insurance suspension, premises expansion, and license renewal fees. You can view more information on the OLCC website.
[July 1, 2021] - Full Reopening | OSHA Changes
Full Reopening with OSHA Changes - As many of you saw, OSHA updates were sent out as an Announcement on some bigger workplace changes that aligned with the Governor’s full reopening of the economy yesterday, June 30. In anticipation of the updates, we tracked down intelligence from OSHA Director Michael Wood and released information to the ORLA membership on Monday, June 28 regarding the change to both face covering mandates and physical distancing mandates from OSHA which is separate from the Oregon Health Authority regulations we knew were already going away on June 30. Once we confirmed the information, we sent an update to our industry to give as much advance warning as possible.
ORLA Feedback on Communications - With communication preferences constantly changing, it’s important that our professional staff have up to date information from members on how they view our communication performance, especially after a year like we’ve had. We appreciate hearing your feedback on our communication products and how well they’re hitting the mark. Take Survey
Updated Year in Review - View an updated version of ORLA’s Year in Review here. There was such a deluge of work over the last 15 months for all of us that it can be easy to dismiss or simply forget the work that has been accomplished or the degree of its importance. We hope our work has been something you are proud to be a part of. Before Covid, it was an ongoing challenge to communicate the value of advocacy and government relations work. Many times its seen as an intangible that is nice to have for the industry but not necessarily important to operations on a day to day basis. Of course Covid changed this perception entirely as it consumed our world and altered our approach to so much in the industry.
Oregon Tourism Leadership Academy Progress - Even with everything going on, ORLA remains committed to the Oregon Tourism Leadership Academy which we built from scratch last year in partnership with Travel Oregon and the Oregon Destination Association. The leadership program is owned by ORLA and will prove to be an important tool in helping the association train and cultivate leaders for the future of our industry. Due to Covid, we have two separate leadership groups actively engaging their peers in the program. Our first year class will have their third experience out of four in Seaside next week from July 7-9. The first year class will wrap up their program year in the Willamette Valley from September 29 – October 1. Our second year class launches their year in the Columbia Gorge July 28-30. For more info visit OregonRLA.org/OTLA.
[June 28, 2021] - Clarifying Your Questions about OSHA Rules
A number of industry operators have been reaching out since Governor Brown’s announcement Friday, June 25, about Oregon OSHA rules for employees.
We have confirmed as of today thanks to Director Michael Wood that face covering and distancing rules will be eliminated in alignment with the full reopening of our economy on Wednesday, June 30.
ORLA will continue working with Oregon OSHA as part of their rules committee to continue addressing the details involved with unraveling the Covid-19 directives.
We recommend sending a communication alert to your entire staff letting them know face covering mandates are no longer in effect as of Wednesday if you plan to follow state policy. If you so choose, you can still require face coverings as a business policy as well as allow staff who prefer to wear a face covering to continue doing so.
Congratulations to you for making it to this point and surviving the monumental challenges presented from the past 15 months.
Please reach out to your ORLA Regional Representative for the ongoing intelligence you need to operate your business most effectively.
[Click the "Read More" link for archived blog updates]
[June 25, 2021] - Reopening No Later Than Wednesday, Portland’s Messaging, Legislative Session Wrapping Up, Board Chair Featured
Our Press is Out – We’re Fully Reopening No Later Than Wednesday
Governor Brown gave us a date certain to fully reopen our economy which will officially take place no later than this Wednesday, June 30. Oregon continues to slowly approach the 70% goal for vaccinations but at the recent one tenth a percentage pace each day, it was looking more likely that we would not be getting to 70% before the 4th of July weekend. The Governor opened the door and provided a set date which is great to see. If you’re wondering what this means, it means risk levels and face covering, distancing, and capacity restrictions are almost in the rear view mirror for good. You can view our press release.
Travel Portland and the Portland Business Alliance have been busy partners with so much left to be accomplished in our largest metropolitan area. There is a great deal of work going into media relations and promotions for Portland to welcome our fans back. We’ll continue working with our local partners and their organizations to amplify messaging and support the importance of a full recovery for the region which will take time. Here’s a link to the OPB segment: https://www.opb.org/show/thinkoutloud/. Also included here is a summary of the media coverage to date.
The Session is Wrapping Up
The 2021 Oregon Legislative Session will be wrapping up any moment. ORLA has found success in the proactive passage of bills we deemed to be priorities while also fending off proposals that would have been harmful to the industry’s recovery. House Bill 3389 will save our industry tens of millions of dollars in the years ahead on unemployment insurance taxes, we have successfully protected the intellectual property rights of our restaurant operators in their relationships with third party delivery services, and to-go cocktails are permanent and will provide an extra tool in the toolbox for a segment of our membership.
Congratulations to ORLA Board Chair Masudur Khan
Hats off to ORLA Board Chair Masudur Khan for the special recognition by Travel + Leisure. The SaltLine Hotel was recently featured by the publication on June 20 as one of 13 Amazing Asian American Owned Hotels in the United States. Great stuff: https://www.travelandleisure.com/hotels-resorts/us-hotels-owned-by-asian-americans
[June 17, 2021] - Bids for A Better Industry is Live, Latest Bill Tracking
Bids for a Better Industry - Our online ORLAPAC auction is now live and can be accessed online. We have lots of activity right out of the gate with members already actively bidding on the many great packages available. Please note, bidding closes at 3:00 pm on June 24. We’re confident we’ll continue to see increased activity on the site as we get closer to the cutoff. Proceeds (including sponsorship revenues) go directly to ORLA’s Political Action Committee. The more we raise for ORLAPAC, the more resource we have for relationship building with elected leaders and the legislative caucuses.
Bill Tracking - The 2021 Legislative Session is winding down and we’re anticipating adjournment at some point this coming week which would be a little ahead of schedule if it happens. The latest bill tracking on industry priorities can be found on ORLA's website, updated as of June 16, 2021.
SBA Halts Grants to Priority Group - Last Friday the SBA announced that due to a recent court case, they were forced to suspend payments to Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) grant recipients who qualified under the “priority” designation of the RESTAURANTS Act. This news clearly underscores the need for Congress to replenish the RRF. We need industry members to stay motivated and contact their representatives in Washington D.C. to finish the mission and fully fund the RRF.
Cleanup Events - For the past year, a dedicated group of hospitality industry members spearheaded by the Portland Lodging Alliance has been volunteering to help host and participate in monthly cleanup events in Portland. These activities are critical in helping provide for cleaner, healthier streets in the downtown area. In partnership with SOLVE, Pick It Up, Portland! has organized a weekend-long event June 25-26 with various projects throughout the Rose City. Join fellow hospitality members and volunteer to lend a hand.
[June 11, 2021] - Bill Tracking, Return to Work Proposal, and Bids for a Better Industry!
Reopening Oregon - According to the latest information on the Oregon Health Authority website and today’s press conference with Governor Brown, we are at 67.2% of Oregonians having received their first vaccine. Approximately 90,000 more Oregonians need to get in line to trigger the full reopening of the economy and the estimate is that we should be on the brink of accomplishing that in about two weeks. I was hoping for earlier, but trends are showing dissipating demand. It's one more reason our work as an association to encourage vaccinations alongside our other business partners is so important. Make sure to utilize our webpage which features this work whenever you’re in a position to encourage others to be a part of our vaccination efforts: Advocacy / COVID-19 Resources & Information.
Online Auction to Support Oregon Hospitality - Mark your calendars as ORLA's PAC auction, Bids for a Better Industry, launches next week! We have amazing packages thanks to committed and generous members. Please join me in bidding online starting June 16 on packages you’re interested in and be sure to share the link to the online auction with friends, family and colleagues.
Bill Tracking & Return to Work Proposal - The latest updates can be found on our website as we track bills of note for the industry in the final few weeks of Oregon’s 2021 Legislative Session. We have notable wins to date both in pushing some key bills forward (significant unemployment insurance tax relief for the industry will prove to be the biggest when passed) as well as fighting back against proposals that would have damaged the industry. Also, we have movement on the utilization of American Rescue Plan Act dollars to create a stronger return to work incentive. For a full overview of the latest movement on legislative bills, view ORLA's Legislative page.
Latest ORLA Alert - We continue to press the importance of separating out counties that are locked into lower risk from those that have risk levels that can move. Lane County joined Multnomah, Deschutes, Washington, Benton, Hood River, and Lincoln County in being “locked in” to the lower risk level until the state reaches the 70% goal to fully reopen the economy. In a day or so, the Governor announced Clackamas County will also reach this milestone given their vaccination progress. The full recap on county risk levels and where we stand was sent out as an ORLA Alert earlier this week and we will continue to do so until we fully reopen the economy.
[June 4, 2021] - Takeaways from Governor Brown's Press Conference / Bill Tracking / Federal Budget Perspective
We had some really good news in the Governor’s Press Conference today with some definitive details that will make our lives in hospitality much better in a matter of weeks. And of course ORLA will continue working with partners to promote vaccine efforts to get to our 70% goal as fast as possible.
Governor Brown Takeaways - We need approximately 120,000 more 18 and older Oregonians to get their first shot and when that happens, we will reach our 70% goal and fully reopen the economy. Governor Brown said today that reaching 70% means the following:
Modeling from the Governor’s office appears to show we will reach 70% by Monday, June 21 and it's possible it may be sooner. Please spread the word – this qualifies as great news for the industry.
Bill Tracking - The legislative bill tracking list has been updated as of today, June 4, with the latest progress on a number of fronts. Our top priority continues to be making sure unemployment insurance relief gets over the finish line (House Bill 3389). We of course also achieved a victory this week on allowing to-go cocktails permanently. Although it's not of interest to all it certainly helps a cross section of ORLA members realize new and hopefully growing revenue opportunities.
Federal Budget Perspective - Our colleagues from the National Restaurant Association shared the following update on President Biden’s proposed budget which is non-binding. However, it provides an indication of where the Administration stands on various tax issues and insight into where the President will look to for offsetting legislative priorities.
Higher Rates and a Broader Base: Details Released on Biden Tax Proposals
The Biden Administration released a fiscal year 2022 budget proposal on May 28 that adjusts tax rates on businesses and high-income individuals to finance both traditional physical infrastructure projects and “human” infrastructure programs. These recommendations, outlined in the American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan, are shared with Congress as they consider legislation in coming months.
What Is Included in the Biden Administration Recommendations:
What Isn’t Included in the Biden Administration Recommendations:
Process in Congress:
The budget request is non-binding, as only Congress can author tax legislation. Legislators are expected to address these policies in two phases: first, the infrastructure / American Jobs Plan, and second the American Families Plan. Both House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) want to move legislation before the August recess.
[May 28, 2021] - The Latest Communications from Your Association
Alerts & Advocacy Updates - ORLA continues to send two email campaigns on a regular basis. The Alert email currently sends to the entire industry to share important/urgent updates and also help build goodwill in hopes of enticing more active membership relationships. The Advocacy Update email sends only to ORLA members with a frequency of almost every week. Our last Alert sent this past Tuesday evening focused in on clearer communication where we separate out the Lower Risk counties who have reached their county vaccination goals (6 counties who are locked into Lower Risk) from the other 12 counties in Lower Risk that still have the threat of moving to other risk categories.
Key updates in the member-only Advocacy Update email sent earlier this week included:
These are just two of six email campaigns we send to industry members on a regular basis, keeping you informed and engaged on need-to-know industry intelligence and activities. If you are not already receiving these emails, please click here to Subscribe.
Return to Work Survey Results - We had a strong response to ORLA’s latest survey on Return to Work Incentives. Here’s a new way to look at the final results so you can keep a pulse on what hospitality industry employers are up to in an attempt to get Oregonians to accept job offers: https://www.surveymonkey.com/stories/SM-F7FXBJ6C/
We hope you continue to see ORLA as a crucial business partner for you. As a reminder, we exist to have your back and we will keep up the fight! Not an ORLA member yet? Please consider a membership with the leading business association representing Oregon restaurant and lodging operations and join now.
[Click the "Read More" link for archived blog updates]
[May 21, 2021] - Dine Local / Workforce Webinar / OED Engagement / Tracking to 70% Statewide Goal
Here are the latest highlights from your state association. As a reminder, there is always much more going on than these big picture updates in the blog. You can stay up to date by following our other communication channels (website, emails, videos, webinars, podcasts, and social media). As always, we'd love for you to join the association if you aren't already a member. [Join Now]
Dine Local & Upcoming Workforce Webinar - The Oregon Hospitality Foundation (OHF) with the support of ORLA staff have been working hard to prop up the latest initiative to support local restaurants in Oregon. We’re collecting authentic stories from the general public about their memorable restaurant experiences and are giving away a slew of gift cards thanks to OHF and NW Natural. Take a look and help promote the OHF's Dine Local Drawing. OHF is also hosting a webinar on Tuesday, May 25 to help employers tackle their workforce shortages. Register here.
OSHA & Employment Department Engagement - ORLA members interested in government affairs have been actively participating in Friday morning legislative update calls. Thanks to TJ Birkel and Nick Pearson for their ongoing leadership of our Government Affairs Committee in a challenging year. Today’s call featured OSHA Director Michael Wood who agreed to answer some recurring questions from members on the latest face covering/verification dynamics at play in Oregon. Next week, Acting Employment Department Director David Gerstenfeld will be joining us to talk about the latest changes being implemented in their department to address broad unemployment insurance eligibility. If you'd like to join us for our call with Gerstenfeld next Friday, reach out to Greg Astley, ORLA Director of Government Affairs.
Tracking to 70% Statewide Goal - When are we going to officially be done with these risk categories once and for all? The answer is somewhere between early June and late June. Some of us are tracking the Oregon Health Authority’s “orange bar” online. And the Governor’s announcement today on the vaccination campaign, "Take Your Shot, Oregon," should help coax some in our state to get in line for a vaccine if they haven’t already. As we track Oregon's progress towards 70%, we are currently at 62.9% and the movement towards 70% seems to go up by 2 tenths to 4 tenths a percent since watching our progress over the last few days. See the Oregon Vaccine Metrics Governors Goal.
Latest Economic Analysis - There was significant news announced this week on Oregon’s Economic and Revenue Forecast. For a complete rundown on details and the analysis for what this means for Oregon’s recovery, visit OregonEconomicAnalysis.com.
[May 14, 2021] - New Mask & Distancing Guidelines Coming from OHA
Mask Requirement Lifted for Fully Vaccinated - The CDC issued today new guidance for lifting masks and social distancing requirements for fully vaccinated individuals.The CDC also noted a few exceptions, such as public transportation, hospitals, healthcare clinics, correctional facilities, and long-term care facilities. Oregon will continue to require individuals to remain masked and distanced in these circumstances. In Governor Brown's video statement issued late this afternoon, she states, "In the coming days, the Oregon Health Authority will be providing updated guidance for businesses, employers, and others to allow the option of lifting mask and physical distancing requirements after verifying vaccination status. Some businesses may prefer to simply continue operating under the current guidance for now, rather than worrying about verifying vaccination status, and that's fine."
ORLA is hearing from our counterparts in the business community that OHA will now likely issue the new mask/social distancing guidance on Monday. OSHA will follow sometime after that with language adjusting their rules to conform with OHA.
County Risk Level Movement - Effective May 14-20, 3 counties have moved from High to Moderate; the rest remain the same: Grant, Lincoln and Wasco counties.
Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) Update - The NRA produced a Next Steps Guide that walks you through everything you need to effectively – and legally – utilize your RRF grant to preserve your restaurant. The NRA has launched a grassroots petition urging Congress to replenish the RRF to maximize relief for restaurants.
[May 7, 2021] - ORLA Updates in Government Affairs Work
Press Conference Friday - Governor Brown focused her comments largely on the same talking points that were used in her response to ORLA and close to 80 county commissioners around the state who are pushing back on her latest round of restrictions. She confirmed her position the restrictions we are using for the Extreme Risk level still are the appropriate actions to mitigate virus spread and save lives. As you can see in national news, the media is picking up on how Oregon has become an outlier on economic restrictions at this stage in the pandemic.
Legislative Bill Tracking - The latest bill tracking list is posted online on the ORLA website. It has been relatively quiet in the Legislature given where we are in the session. Many are waiting for the May Revenue Forecast to be released next week which lays the final reality for the state’s biennial budget which starts on July 1. For a deeper dive on bills and to join the weekly advocacy conversation reach out to our Director of Government Affairs Greg Astley.
Oregon OSHA Update - Earlier last week, the House Committee on Business and Labor and the Senate Committee on Labor and Business sent a letter to the Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS) and Oregon OSHA requesting review of the proposed Rules Addressing the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency in All Oregon Workplaces. Read the response from OR-OSHA and DCBS regarding their intentions and authority to adopt the rule as of May 7, 2021.
What to Expect with RRF - Over 186K entities applied in the first 36 hours of RRF. SBA released tips for RRF applicants waiting for word on their grant submission. We summarized the information below:
[May 4, 2021] - Some Good News to Share
The announcement released by Governor Brown today provides good news to the 15 counties currently in the Extreme Risk category as all 15 return to High Risk this Friday, May 7, and resume indoor dining. Governor Brown stated, “Based on today’s numbers, I am keeping my commitment to Oregonians. Beginning Friday, all counties in Extreme Risk will return to High Risk. With Oregonians continuing to get vaccinated each week, my expectation is that we will not return to Extreme Risk again for the duration of this pandemic."
COVID-19 closures and restrictions on indoor dining have been clobbering Oregon’s restaurants, bars and hospitality sector. The constant yo-yoing of closures and restrictions targeted at restaurants has made it impossible for these local businesses to plan during a time when they’re already struggling to survive. This is a positive development for these local businesses that are part of our livelihoods but they still need stability and predictability to continue to survive.
Thank you for supporting your local restaurants on one of the biggest days of the year, Mother's Day.
[April 30, 2021] - ORLA Update: Letter from the Counties, OSHA Rule, What ORLA's "Doing,” and the RRF
ORLA Joins County Commissioners in Letter to the Governor - Earlier this week, Associated Oregon Counties (AOC) submitted a letter to Governor Brown asking her to remove state mandated business restrictions. The letter was signed by AOC, ORLA and close to 80 county commissioners from across the state. Read the County Commissioners’ letter and the Governor's response letter here.
What’s ORLA “Doing?” - ORLA’s latest action Alert email was sent out to members earlier this week. Included in the communication are ways for our members to mobilize, participate in an online poll from OregonLive, flyers for businesses to mobilize customers and employees, and all the information we’re responsible for getting out so the industry knows what changes they need to make with the new restrictions and timelines associated with them. If you know of anything else we could be doing on top of what’s currently going on, please don’t hesitate to share feedback.
OSHA Update and Letter - The expiration of the OSHA temporary rule relating to Covid is here next week. The purpose of this letter is to request formal hearings under ORS 183.335 to provide the Legislative Assembly with the opportunity to review OR-OSHA’s proposed permanent rule related to COVID-19, and to determine its compliance with the legislation from which the proposed adoption, amendment or repeal results. It is our expectation that the practical impacts of this letter are as follows:
Workers? Where are They? - This will be an ongoing debate about how many of our former workers are sitting on the sidelines versus how many have left for other jobs (think distribution facilities like Amazon, manufacturing facilities, etc.). See the Oregon Employment Department’s latest take on where we are and what they can decipher from the data if you’re interested in digging deeper.
RRF Grant Application - The Restaurant Revitalization Fund application process opens this Monday, May 3. If you’re applying (20 locations or less to be eligible), get your paperwork in order this weekend! Everything you need to prepare if right here – we did a webinar on this with SBA, NRA and a few other states yesterday:
[April 27, 2021] - 15 Counties Moving to Extreme Risk
Today’s announcement by Governor Brown will result in yet another round of indoor dining closures in many counties across Oregon. As kids continue gathering back at school and cases continue to be tracked back to places of worship, education institutions, manufacturing facilities, private social gatherings and health care settings, somehow it has been decided Oregon’s restaurants are responsible and therefore must close indoors in specific counties.
We remain dismayed by the ongoing fallacies in decision making taking place at the highest levels of our state government. Oregon’s hospitality industry has already done so much to help mitigate virus spread and the latest announcement feels to many of us as one round of restrictions too many – especially with highly effective vaccines readily available for Oregonians.
As of Friday, April 30, 15 counties will be moving backwards into Extreme Risk and indoor dining shutdowns by order of the Governor. The the next county assessments are expected on Tuesday, May 4. You can view the latest county by county data sets here.
You can make a difference in the following ways to make sure your story is shared with those responsible for implementing ongoing restrictions on your livelihood and the livelihoods of your teammates:
[April 19, 2021] - RRF Sample Application Now Available, Media Outreach on Critical Issues
SBA Sample Restaurant Grant Application Now Online - The SBA released technical guidance and a sample application for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund. The SBA will not begin accepting applications until later this month, but the release of these documents allows restaurant operators to see the application and begin organizing documents. The National Restaurant Association has prepared an excellent FAQ document to provide support for restaurant owners. It will be updated later this week to reflect the specifics of this application. ORLA is working with the National Restaurant Association on a webinar to answer your questions in the coming weeks.
More Closures in March - We hit the media with 2 press releases this week. The first was focused on our reality that even though we all might be tired of Covid, the pandemic is certainly taking its toll on our industry and will continue to do so. In other words, don’t forget about the challenges remaining in the hospitality industry and please have patience as we struggle with a workforce shortage crisis within the pandemic. That press release sent out last week can be accessed here: 190 More Permanent Restaurant Closures in March.
Press Release on UI Tax Relief - House Bill 3389, our unemployment insurance tax relief bill (and one of our top priorities in the 2021 legislative session) moved out of the House and to the Senate on Thursday last week. We of course want the deferral and forgiveness components for your 2021 tax hikes improved beyond the current deferral and forgiveness levels. We will be pushing for that in the Senate. As mentioned in last week's press release, the big win in the current version of this bill is getting all your unemployment tax rate levels back to your 2020 levels for 2022, 2023, and 2024 which is a very big deal. You can view our press on this here: More Relief Anticipated for Oregon Hospitality.
Business Coalition on Federal Revenue - There are a few issues (OSHA regulations and American Rescue Plan dollars from the federal government coming to Oregon) which represent opportunities for ORLA to partner with a broader coalition of business partners working hard to keep Oregon’s economy moving. Read our latest coalition letter on the importance of the dollars coming to Oregon and how those dollars can be strategically used to help bolster Oregon’s economic recovery. There are a great deal of competing priorities for federal funds and Oregon’s business coalition wants to make sure the opportunities for economic investments are heard and have an opportunity to be considered by the Governor’s Office and Oregon’s legislature.
[April 12, 2021] - The Latest on Vaccine Appointments and Self-Service Regulations
Vaccination Intelligence - We've been in touch with Salem Health’s Chief Project Officer on Covid vaccines a few times this past week to make sure we are doing everything we can to connect interested frontline workers with their vaccine appointments. Approximately 25% of the vaccines being administered at the Oregon State Fairgrounds by Salem Health are for people outside the Salem area and their process seems to be dialed in. If you are still working to connect your staff with a vaccine appointment take advantage of these steps.
Self-Service Shenanigans - ORLA continues to push for changes to our self-service restrictions (i.e. frozen dessert self-service locations / salad bars / self-service continental breakfasts in hotels). This week, the CDC came out with new information stating the risk of transmitting Covid from surfaces is 1 in 10,000. In an email communication with the Governor’s Office and Dr. Sidelinger, we asked again that they please take another look at this restriction given the CDC article. It appears the new CDC article may help in providing some flexibility based on their response today. We’ll keep you posted on any changes.
Redistricting Timeline Extended for Oregon - There is a new deadline for our state leaders to finalize the process of drawing the lines associated with each legislative district in Oregon. The new deadline is September 27, 2021 and will provide the extra time needed to incorporate the 2020 Census changes in Oregon. View the press release regarding the Oregon Supreme Court decision.
[April 9, 2021] - Updates from Your State Association
ORLA Joins Business Community on Priorities for the American Rescue Plan Revenues - The $6 billion in federal aid expected by state and local governments in Oregon represents an unprecedented transfusion of cash that could prove transformational – if it is invested wisely. ORLA joins a coalition of business leaders urging the Governor and state leaders to consider the investments in three parts: 1) Near-term for programs that assist individuals, families, businesses and nonprofits still struggling financially; 2) Longer-term for substantial investments in carefully selected projects that will bolster our economic base and yield returns to Oregonians for decades to come, and 3) A contingency set-aside for unforeseen challenges in the next few years. Read the letter.
OLCC Approves “Floor Pricing" - Despite much testimony in opposition, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) approved a floor pricing proposal for distilled spirits which increases the price of the lowest priced spirits sold in Oregon liquor stores. ORLA joined other business groups affiliated with alcohol licensees testifying that floor pricing jeopardizes the hospitality industry’s fragile recovery. “Now is not the time to make it more difficult for bars and restaurants to do business and serve customers. Let’s build on the good will of the accomplishments of the past year,” said Greg Astley from the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association.
[April 5, 2021] - Vaccine Toolkit; Preparing Your Frontline Workers
Last week the Governor announced frontline workers (including all hospitality workers, as defined by the CDC) and their families are eligible for a vaccine starting April 5. We want to make sure you are aware of the resources available to help you communicate important information about vaccines to your workers, and to give them information about how to find locations and appointments.
Here are some key resources to share with your employees:
Find more resources and an Employer Toolkit on ORLA's COVID-19 Resources & Announcements page.
[April 1, 2021] - OSHA Permanent Rule Response from ORLA
ORLA alongside other business groups has been actively engaged in the rulemaking process for workplace safety in Covid times and Oregon OSHA has been one of the more aggressive OSHA agencies across the country in trying to create new rules. Earlier today, ORLA submitted our response which is in line with ongoing coordination amongst other state business groups that have been actively engaged in the rulemaking process since the beginning of the year. Read the official ORLA response to the proposal to create a permanent COVID rule that would need to be adhered to by all workplaces for an undetermined amount of time.
[March 31, 2021] - Business Coalition Unites to Push for Changes to OSHA Rules
The Oregon Legislative Session continues but in the past few weeks there have been a few victories worth noting as we fight on the frontlines with other legislative bills that remain alive for consideration. On the good news front, House Bill 3296 which would have exponentially increased taxes on alcohol is no longer viable. The broader beverage alliance guarding against increased taxes at this time remains on watch for other proposals that could emerge. But for now, a special thanks to ORLA members and the broader beverage industry for impressive mobilization that helped derail the tax proposal.
In other news, a broad coalition of business associations have joined together in submitting the following response to Oregon OSHA’s proposed permanent rule relating to Covid. ORLA continues to be actively involved with other groups to make sure the permanent rule is rescinded at the conclusion of the state of emergency. The reason a permanent rule is even in the mix after the adoption of a temporary rule approximately 4 months ago is due to a state law making temporary rules active for a maximum of 180 days. Since the Covid health emergency has lasted well beyond the temporary timeframe, a permanent rule is being pursued but not without strong advocacy from business groups to make sure the permanent rule does in fact expire once the Covid health emergency in effect from Governor Brown is behind us.
Other important developments include a public hearing to bring more relief to our industry as well as others dealing with spiking unemployment insurance tax rates. ORLA will be actively engaged alongside our members for a public hearing scheduled for Thursday, April 1 at 1pm for House Bill 3389. The bill introduced in the past few weeks needs some stronger relief for hard hit industries like hospitality but the foundation of the bill is in good shape for potential amendments that could make a real difference for Oregon’s hospitality industry. ORLA will also be watching the progress of another bill we support – House Bill 3177 which is scheduled for a work session on Thursday, April 1 at 8am. Many of you took action on the bill which would put power back in the hands of Oregon’s legislature to determine appropriate economic sanctions for industries reeling from the economic impacts of Covid including foodservice and fitness establishments.
To see the latest activity on legislative bills, visit ORLA's Legislative Bill Tracking page.
[March 18, 2021] - Oregon's UI Trust Fund Balance / Taxing Forgiven PPP Loans? / It's a Warning Week
It’s a very busy week in the Oregon Legislature. Here are the latest updates overall at the association. A more detailed Advocacy Update will be sent to ORLA members soon from our Director of Government Affairs Greg Astley. As always reach out with any questions or comments.
Oregon’s Unemployment Insurance (UI) Trust Fund Balance
Recently the United States Chamber of Commerce pulled together the fund balances available to every state to pay unemployment insurance benefits. You might be surprised to hear like we were that Oregon has the best funded trust fund in the nation. This isn’t based on population or some per capita assessment. Take a look at the UI Trust Fund Comparison spreadsheet. My favorite new line to use is “After paying out benefits to unemployed Oregonians through all of 2020, Oregon still has more money in our trust fund right now compared to what California had before Covid even started.” So you may ask, why the egregious increase in our tax rates? We have the same question. ORLA, Oregon Business & Industry, NFIB, and other business partners are working together to solve this problem.
Taxing Forgiven PPP Loans?
You heard that right. Some in the Oregon Legislature thought it would be a good idea to tax your PPP funds. Proposed amendments to House Bill 2457 would have amounted to a surprise tax bill on businesses across Oregon. Our friends at OBI and NFIB rallied the business community to quickly respond with this statement once the amendment was posted and a work session on the bill was cancelled this past Tuesday after the coalition submitted the attached opposition letter. We will keep a watchful eye on future attempts such as this before the legislature adjourns at the beginning of Summer.
It's a Warning Week
While more and more states move to new models of operation of at least 50% capacity statewide for restaurants, Oregon continues to hold on to its county by county risk assessment system. See the latest case counts from Monday’s county by county Oregon Health Authority County Risk Level report. The data that stands out to me in the document is as follows:
[March 12, 2021] - It's a Movement Week; Latest ORLA Press Releases
President Biden’s news last night is a good sign that our vaccination timelines will be moving up and help clear the way for a steady increase in lodging and restaurant business later this spring. This news also assists us in our ambitious lineup of ORLA events: Virtual PAC fundraiser “Bid for a Better Industry” June 16-24), ORLA Open Golf Tournament July 26, Northwest Food Show August 1-2, Play it Fore-Ward for Hospitality August 24, and ORLA Hospitality Conference September 19-20. (View all ORLA events here)
Portland Tourism Improvement District - ORLA’s Portland Lodging Alliance in the past few months has been busy working on a number of challenges facing the Portland market while also deciding to move forward in support of a one percent increase in Portland’s Tourism Improvement District self-assessment. The Tourism Improvement District self-assessment will now be 3 percent instead of 2 percent and will continue to be overseen by a board of lodging operators for investments in lodging industry priorities. Although often reported as a tax increase, it is very different from a tax since all the funds raised are not shared for purposes outside tourism improvement. 100% of the 3 percent TID will continue to go towards tourism investments and should assist the Portland market in their rebound and by extension, Oregon overall. The increase was approved unanimously by the Portland Lodging Alliance group within ORLA. Mike Daley, who serves a dual role on the ORLA Board while also serving as Chair of the Travel Portland Board of Directors has been working incredibly hard in his volunteer roles during a crazy year for the lodging industry. We thank him for keeping the lines of communication open and for facilitating conversations amongst lodging operators so we can plan out our approach to getting things back on track.
It's a Movement Week - Earlier this week, Governor Kate Brown announced the latest round of county movements which directly impact the way in which our members and the industry can operate their businesses. As of today, we have 13 counties in Low Risk (50% indoor capacity for restaurants with no ‘total person cap’ limits and midnight closing time / 50% capacity for indoor pools/hot tubs), 12 counties at Moderate Risk (50% indoor capacity for restaurants or 100 total people indoors including staff, whichever is less and still 11pm closing time / 50% capacity for indoor pools/hot tubs or 100 total people, whichever is less), 9 counties at High Risk (25% indoor capacity for restaurants or 50 people total including staff, whichever is less and 11pm closing time / 25% capacity for indoor pools/hot tubs or 50 people total, whichever is less), and 2 counties still in Extreme Risk (no indoor dining capacity, outdoor seating only if available to the restaurant / no more than 6 people total for indoor pool/hot tub use at a time).
View the latest Google Doc showing all the County Risk Level movement. As a refresher, view the Sector Risk Level Guidance chart which details all the business restrictions in the 4 risk categories.
Latest ORLA Press Releases - This week, ORLA released two press releases. One on industry workforce shortages and one on our desire to see an elimination of the ‘total person caps’ in our risk categories. We are still averaging about 6-12 media engagements per week. Engagements vary depending on the level of interest in the media for a particular theme. As many of you can probably relate to, we had a significant response to our workforce shortage query out to the ORLA membership.
Weekly Advocacy Updates - A special thanks to our Government Affairs Co-Chairs TJ Birkel and Nick Pearson for their ongoing leadership of ORLA’s Government Affairs Committee. Greg Astley, ORLA’s Director of Government Affairs and Bill Perry, ORLA’s contract lobbyist continue to work with our Co-Chairs to hold weekly check-in meetings for interested Government Affairs Committee members on the status of the Oregon Legislative Session. In addition, ORLA is increasing the frequency of our advocacy updates on top of our ongoing bill tracking capability so interested members can keep tabs on the flow of the session.
As always, please reach out to us with any questions.
[March 8, 2021] - American Rescue Plan Passes: Win for Hospitality!
The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, including the $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF), is being sent to President Biden for a signature. Passage of this bill represents an enormous win for the hospitality industry and comes after much collaboration and continued pressure from our national affiliates including the National Restaurant Association, the American Hotel & Lodging Association, and Asian American Hotel Owners Association. ORLA has been working with our national partners to mobilize industry members and contribute to a collective voice on industry-specific assistance needed from the start of the pandemic.
The American Rescue Plan bill includes significant assistance and provisions including:
Read more about the American Rescue Plan.
[March 6, 2021] - Risk Level Movement Flexibility, Economic Trends
This is a “warning week” for changes to county risk assessments but your association's pressure campaign expressing high levels of concern about the 2-week at a time opening/closing of restaurants appears to have paid off. That and other updates are available for you below.
More ‘Extreme Risk’ Flexibility - As more states move away from capacity restrictions, the west coast continues to be plagued by much more restrictive measures. CA and WA are just a little ahead of Oregon in having more aggressive restriction mandates but all 3 states seem to be falling further behind in their approach to punishing hospitality businesses as a viable strategy to mitigate virus spread. The win this past week will assist counties in the future (starting with the next ‘Movement Week’) that are running the risk of going backwards on case counts. The announcement by the Governor’s office confirms when a county moves out of Extreme Risk restaurants in those counties will now be given 4 weeks before potentially having to shut down indoor dining compared to the 2 week at a time certainty we’ve been living with for quite some time. View the Governor’s press release and ORLA's response–another small win but we all know we need much more to start the long process of getting our industry operators back on track.
Travel Oregon Economic Trends Data - As part of Travel Oregon’s recent State of the Industry virtual event, Adam Sachs, President of Tourism Economics shared a slide deck with some good economic intelligence; see Adam’s slides #6-36. Travel Oregon's own forecast and budget is represented in slides #37-43.
Oregon Tourism Leadership Academy - We’re excited to announce Year Two of the Oregon Tourism Leadership Academy will include a full class of participants when it launches later this summer. We have more applications than spots available in the class so the Advisory Committee will need to make some tough decisions about which applicants are offered one of the twenty slots in the class and which applications are kept on file for Year 3 consideration. The advisory committee will meet this week to review all applications and make some important decisions about the makeup of the Year 2 class. Learn more about OTLA.
[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.
[December 7, 2020] - Congress Must Support Restaurants This Year!
Congress needs to hear from restaurants today as they are in session for only a few days more. If they do not get their job done, restaurants will be in the cold until this February at the earliest. Read the National Restaurant Association's letter to Congress sent today along with the results of their latest survey on the economic health of the industry:
Oregon Findings (full survey results):
• 80% of Oregon restaurant operators say their total dollar sales volume in October was lower than it was in October 2019.
• Overall, sales were down 30% on average.
• 39% of Oregon operators say it is unlikely their restaurant will still be in business six months from now, if there are no additional relief packages from the federal government.
• 88% of Oregon operators say their current staffing level is lower than what it would normally be in the absence of COVID-19.
• 66% of restaurants are currently more than 20% below normal staffing levels.
National Findings (full survey results):
• 110,000 restaurants nationwide are closed… 10,000 more since the last survey in July
• 52% of former owners of shuttered restaurants say they will not return to the industry
• 59% of owners report their costs are going up even as sales are going down
• The average restaurant that is now permanently closed was in business for 16 years in the community
Congress needs to hear from you in these final days of 2020! We're helping the National Restaurant Association put the pressure on Congress to take action for the future of the restaurant industry.
SHARE YOUR VOICE
For months, Congress has been trapped in a political tug-of-war while restaurants continue to go dark. A group of moderate Democrats and Republicans last week unveiled a compromise plan that has brought both parties back to the negotiating table. They are calling for a $909 billion relief bill, including a second round of Paycheck Protection Program grants, which with improvements could provide immediate assistance to restaurants.
We need Congress to pass the Blueprint for Restaurant Revival, but we also need to ensure they at least make a “down payment” on a relief plan before leaving town for the year. Our industry simply cannot wait for relief any longer. Efforts in Washington to find the “perfect” solution are laudable, but the lack of progress in the meantime has led too many operators to give up on the government and close down for good.
Thank you for your continued support!
[December 4, 2020] - Updates from Your Association
ORLA is in active discussions with the Oregon Fire Marshall’s Office (OFMO) to ensure our industry has the guidance necessary to provide safe outdoor dining space. As soon as next week the OFMO will have a new “outdoor checklist” that aligns with Oregon Health Authority guidelines, providing operators with a 'one stop shop' resource to know what they can do with dining outdoors and how to get there. We'll keep in contact with Assistant Chief Deputy Chad Hawkins and the Fire Marshall's Office as they finalize this resource so we can get it posted and out to all operators across the state.
Federal Relief Efforts
Federal grassroots mobilization will be in full force this coming Monday. Momentum is building in DC around the moderates package of $908 billion. Expect a lot of activity next week to step up the pressure campaign on national elected leaders to do something in the few weeks remaining before recess. Our colleague Sean Kennedy provides the latest report through video here: 90 Second Advocacy Update
There's a bit of optimism that Congress will conclude the year with some form of COVID relief. The plan from the moderates continues to be the basis of discussion, likely riding on the end-of-year government spending bill. The National Restaurant Association today circulated a document outlining priorities to the Hill, representing what our industry needs to see in a second round of PPP. As for timing of a deal, in theory current government funding expires next Friday the 11th. An informal deadline of Monday the 14th is emerging and would allow Congress to pass a bill and get home early enough to self-quarantine before Christmas.
[December 1, 2020] - County Statuses Updated for Business Operations Starting Dec. 3
On December 1, the Oregon Health Authority updated their map of Oregon counties with associated risk categories.
Starting Thursday, December 3rd, Oregon counties will be categorized into four different and distinct areas regarding closing times, indoor and outdoor dining allowance and seating capacity.
For counties in the “Extreme” category who can only offer Outdoor Dining, there may be some confusion as to what defines an “outdoor space.”
Based on the latest definition from the Oregon Health Authority, “outdoor space” means an open-air space which may have a temporary or fixed cover, such as an awning or roof, so long as the space has at least 75% of the square footage of its sides open for airflow.
Restaurants will still need to adhere to the other restrictions on outdoor dining which include:
*Closing time excludes take-out and delivery service
[November 25, 2020] - New Developments for Oregon's Hospitality Industry
Earlier today on November 25, Governor Kate Brown announced new standards impacting Oregon’s hospitality industry starting Thursday, December 3. Once the 2-Week Freeze is over on Wednesday, December 2, operators across this state will have different operational guidelines associated with their business location(s).
This new health and safety framework uses four different risk levels for counties based on their level of COVID-19 spread—Extreme Risk, High Risk, Moderate Risk, and Lower Risk—effective December 3.
On Monday, November 30, the Oregon Health Authority will reexamine county data to determine which counties qualify for each risk level on December 3, following the end of the 2-Week Freeze. In each subsequent two-week period, the Oregon Health Authority will examine and publish county data weekly, but county risk levels will not change until the end of the second week. In the first week, counties will be given Warning Week data to prepare for potential risk level changes. In the second week, county risk levels will be updated based on that week’s data. More detailed information will be posted before December 3.
VIEW COUNTY RISK LEVELS
There are significant developments included in today’s announcement for all risk assessment columns ranging from Low Risk to Extreme Risk. Each of the 4 columns provide details for restaurants on how they can operate and ORLA is grateful for the inclusion of outdoor dining in all risk categories as well as an extension of Oregon’s curfew of 10pm to 11pm or Midnight depending on the risk category a county is in. Please review the linked documents and reach out to your Regional Representatives with any questions.
*Note: ORLA remains in contact with the Governor’s Office about the importance of turning on Video Lottery Terminals or VLTs. Once we have clarity about the plan for VLTs we will communicate the news to our Video Lottery Retailers around the state. Lottery revenues provide important revenue for critical state services while also providing much needed revenue for Oregon’s restaurant and bar operators. We remain committed to advocating for the importance of VLTs for both purposes with the ability to wear face coverings at all times while machines are being used by players.
[November 20, 2020] - ORLA and the Restaurant Law Center Sue to Prevent Ongoing Industry Devastation
Hello ORLA Members, Friends, and Colleagues:
In an emergency meeting of the ORLA Board of Directors this week, your state association for the hospitality industry has made the decision to move forward as a co-plaintiff in a lawsuit with the Restaurant Law Center against Kate Brown in her official capacity as Governor of the State of Oregon.
We do not take this stand lightly and we realize the seriousness of fighting for our rights as an industry during an ongoing public health emergency. I want you all to know directly from my office that partnerships and collaboration matter to us – especially with the Governor’s Office and their professional staff. We are taking this action due to ongoing concerns about the way in which decisions are being made as a state in the fight to save lives and mitigate virus spread.
Executive Order 20-65, published online this past Tuesday afternoon, November 17 with an effective date of Wednesday, November 18 implementing a statewide two-week shutdown of indoor and outdoor restaurant dining rooms is rife with inequity.
Every one of us has a leadership role to play. Your friends, family, and professional circles deserve to know more from you as a leader as to how the ongoing health emergency is creating growing inequity in our ability to operate small businesses and keep Oregonians employed.
Of considerable concern is the latest news first reported by KGW earlier this week that the numbers we are using to form the basis for our economic decision making as a state are not accurate. According to KGW, individuals who need multiple Covid tests are only counted once regardless of how many tests they have taken as the crisis continues. The result of that flaw means the positivity rate in Oregon is inaccurate as thousands of Covid tests are allegedly not included in the calculation to determine our positivity rate. Without an accurate positivity rate, it seems clear we will have an incredibly difficult time implementing equitable restrictions in both private and public settings based on data.
You can access the KGW story here to better understand the gravity of this situation.
As we move through the process of fighting for your rights in federal district court, I want to thank you all for doing everything you can to stay strong for yourself, your friends, and your employees. The way you approach your leadership journey today will shape your approach for years to come. Our fight is for equitable rights where operators can continue employing people in Oregon’s dining rooms in a way that aligns with the rules established for other industries and for our private residences. As we all know, if Oregonians can gather in groups of up to 6 people across two households in private indoor and outdoor settings, then Oregon’s restaurant operators should be able to serve patrons in groups based on that same standard with physical distance between dining parties. That is our goal – to establish equity in our approach as a state while our industry continues to make significant sacrifices as part of the ongoing emergency health crisis.
You can find ORLA’s suit asking a judge for a temporary restraining order against the latest round of restrictions here:
Our press release to the media regarding the filing of the suit can be found here:
In the spirit of collaboration, there is one thing we all collectively can continue advocating for – action by our federal leaders to pass another relief package. Governor Brown’s office, ORLA, and other business groups are pleading with our federal elected leaders to provide this much needed relief as we wait for several vaccines to move through their approval and distribution process. Another round of Paycheck Protection Program dollars and passage of the Restaurants Act is absolutely crucial in our fight for operators across this state. As part of your leadership journey, we ask you to reach out to Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley as well as your Oregon Congressional leader to request this action. Contact information for your Oregon federal elected leaders can be found through the following links:
Contact US Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon):
Contact US Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon):
Contact District 1 Congressional Leader Suzanne Bonamici (D-Oregon):
Contact District 2 Congressional Leader Greg Walden (R-Oregon):
Contact District 3 Congressional Leader Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon):
Contact District 4 Congressional Leader Peter DeFazio (D-Oregon):
Contact District 5 Congressional Leader Kurt Schrader (D-Oregon):
ORLA is here for restaurant and lodging operators of all shapes and sizes. Our industry will continue to represent the fabric of an incredible American story while leading the way for other industries in embracing the many ways in which our culture is changing. With more female owned and minority owned businesses than any other industry in our country, I know together we will continue to lead by example.
One more important note. ORLA has recently established a new formal partnership with Oregon’s Small Business Development Centers. Expert restaurant advisors are standing by to assist you in wrestling with the difficult challenges facing you right now. Coronavirus Relief Funds have made this new partnership possible. You can visit the following webpage to sign up for no cost, confidential one on one consulting in less than 5 minutes and the professional staff working with Oregon’s Small Business Development Centers will follow up. Regardless of your level of success in the industry, I encourage you to take a hard look at this resource. An outside perspective may help in uncovering a new idea that allows you to hold on a little longer until a vaccine arrives. You can sign up through the following webpage:
My best to you and your families this holiday season. Thank you for the opportunity to serve you in your time of need.
Jason Brandt, President & CEO