FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 27, 2021
Jason Brandt, President & CEO, ORLA
503.302.5060 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Yet again, Oregon Governor Kate Brown punished local restaurants announcing another wave of indoor dining bans in 15 counties starting Friday, April 30. Current coronavirus outbreaks as reported by the Oregon Health Authority have been tied to education institutions, health care settings, private social gatherings and manufacturing facilities. However, Oregon’s plan and ongoing risk categories continue to target and penalize restaurants, gyms, and fitness centers as the predominant set of restrictions deemed necessary to mitigate virus spread. There have been no super spreader cases tied to these environments at any point in the over 13-month pandemic in Oregon.
“Restaurants are taking the necessary precautions to ensure the safety of their employees and customers dining indoors,” said Jason Brandt, President & CEO of the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association. “It is impossible to run a restaurant two weeks at a time let alone one week at a time which is now Governor Brown’s plan for the coming weeks. The move by the Governor’s Office is tone deaf and offensive to tens of thousands of Oregonians working in restaurants and bars across our state attempting to pay their bills. COVID-19 closures and restrictions on indoor dining are clobbering Oregon’s restaurants, bars and hospitality sector. We’ve seen more than 1,000 close because of the pandemic recession. The uncertainty and arbitrary nature of targeting restaurants has made it impossible for these local businesses to plan during a time when they’re already struggling to survive. The Governor should stop blaming restaurants as the source of COVID-19 spikes. It is blatant discrimination against our local businesses. Instead, we should focus on what we know will work – vaccinating all Oregonians.”
Despite no evidence or correlation between COVID-19 case spikes and restaurants, Oregon’s new extreme risk category includes a new statewide metric: Covid-19 positive patients occupying 300 hospital beds or more, and a 15% increase in the seven-day average over the previous week. Meanwhile, more than 1 million Oregonians have been fully vaccinated. In addition, the Governor’s Office moved away from their normal practice of reviewing hospitalizations based on weekend data and instead used data from Monday which included over 300 hospitalizations in Oregon.
“The field of play keeps changing. We were under 300 hospitalizations all weekend but apparently that doesn’t matter anymore. The constant yo-yoing of closures and restrictions in Oregon are driving people to have multi-family gatherings at home indoors. The level of ongoing suffering being experienced by the hospitality industry is hard to quantify with the constant myopic focus on restricting restaurants and gyms as a way to effectively manage our ongoing COVID crisis,” Brandt said.
Restaurants have only three days to try to adjust their businesses, dispose of perishable food and reduce staffing again. In addition, restaurants will not be able to order food, schedule employees, or plan out their operating hours in advance as weekly changes are implemented by the Governor’s Office. While changing outdoor capacity from 50 to 100 people will help some restaurants, it won't provide much needed flexibility for most.
“The industry desperately needs their #1 sales day coming up on Sunday, May 9. Indoor dining restrictions for a second Mother’s Day in a row would be the ultimate blow to our local restaurants struggling to survive,” Brandt said.
For more information on the efforts of the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association please visit OregonRLA.org.
The Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association is the leading business association for the foodservice and lodging industry in Oregon, which before COVID-19 provided over 180,000 paychecks to working Oregonians.