[Oct. 23, 2020] - Latest Activity on Behalf of Oregon's Hospitality Industry
In case you weren't aware, the ORLA Live! (virtual event for the industry) is coming up in just over two weeks, November 9-10. We've created a dynamic agenda with something for everyone–you can participate live or listen later–so please share with your networks! A couple things to know:
Linked here is the latest email from Michael Wood on the Oregon OSHA situation. We have registered our displeasure with the agency taking on two rule making processes at the same time – finalizing their infectious disease standard rule while also redefining employer responsibility and reassessing fines. Both processes have widespread involvement by the business lobby. We have been more involved at ORLA on the infectious disease standard rule while others in the industry have been helping with the employer responsibility definition and fines which seem focused on the manufacturing sector. Reach out with any questions about these processes because it is confusing and better communication from Oregon OSHA’s director would be helpful. We're asking him to create a one page memo communicating more clearly that these two public processes are happening at the same time.
ORLA is launching digital campaigns around two issues with the goal of pressuring the Governor’s Office to move off of these arbitrary rules – the 10 pm statewide curfew and the 100 person indoor max occupancy (including staff). We have critical mass when we launch these campaigns – the question is whether they will make a difference in getting the Governor to move away from these challenging rules. The Governor’s office confirmed last night that we ‘flooded’ their inboxes on the 10pm curfew issue. A big thanks to Nicole Peterson for her work on both of these campaigns. We will launch the second digital campaign and flood their inboxes again on Monday for the 100 person indoor cap issue. When we take on this strategy rest assured I give the Governor’s office a call and a ‘heads up’ – the goal is to give the staff plenty of ammunition when they interact with the Oregon Health Authority and the Governor to showcase just how necessary these changes are. If you haven't already, please sign up to be a Hospitality Advocate and receive text alerts by texting "ORLA" to 52886.
On a side note we are sad to report that Nicole Peterson’s last day as ORLA’s Government Affairs Coordinator will be this Wednesday. ORLA prides itself on having a Government Affairs Coordinator position that provides an exceptional development opportunity in the government affairs arena here in Oregon. Nicole will be taking on an expanded role at the Oregon Department of Education and our team looks forward to seeing her around and working with her as she takes on this new challenge. Thank you Nicole for your amazing work!
The Oregon Tourism Commission released their Regional Funding Report representing lodging tax revenue declines for Oregon’s 7 tourism regions and the organizations who receive funds in those 7 regions to promote tourism and help increase economic activity for our industry. The numbers are tough and the forecasts are grim, but we wanted to share for general awareness of the financial shortfalls our promotional partners will be dealing with as they try to determine how to best spend limited funds to get people back in our hotels and restaurants.
As always reach out with any questions or comments about any of the updates we have to share.
[Oct. 21, 2020] - Latest Updates From Your Association
Oregon OSHA is working to finalize a temporary rule for infectious disease standards in the workplace. The temporary rule is meant to replace Phase 2 guidelines once in effect and for our industry, the rule replicates the guidance we are already following for Phase 2 counties from the Oregon Health Authority. ORLA serves on the committee to review the final draft of the rule. Unfortunately, the committee plans involve a new ‘exposure risk assessment’ process and ‘infection control plan’ that will need to be instituted by all Oregon employers in November. The official communication coming out of the Governor’s office is that Oregon OSHA’s temporary COVID-19 Rule will be adopted 10/21 and go into effect 11/1. More details to come on this; read the applicable attachments that have been shared with the workgroup below.
ORLA’s Nicole Peterson testified on behalf of our association last week as part of a Management-Labor Advisory Committee hearing (MLAC). The big issue we have been dealing with in this process is the debate over whether a workers' compensation presumption should apply when an employee is infected with COVID-19. The business lobby, including ORLA, came out in full force for the last committee meeting on October 9th and testified against a presumption that would say it is presumed the workplace was responsible for the infection. At the end of the meeting, MLAC committee members discussed the possibility of drafting a compromise or a much more limited presumption. Obviously, the business lobby wants nothing less than no presumption, and the labor side wants the opposite. It is to be determined on what they decide to do and what they move forward with recommending.
Over the past few weeks ORLA has held numerous Listening Sessions with Legislators including one with Speaker Tina Kotek. One member's comment really resonated on what the industry is facing. It was from nightclub owner, Brad McCray (Candy and Sanctuary in Portland) who joined us in discussing the arbitrary 10pm curfew (listen here). Stories like the one Brad shared are why we do this work. Common sense must prevail and we all need to keep up the fight to get modifications to the arbitrary rules (like the curfew and 100-person indoor cap regardless of indoor space).
ORLA is preparing for some important Zoom discussions with Employment Department Director David Gerstenfeld on October 26 and 27 for foodservice and lodging operators, respectively. In preparation for those conversations we are receiving comments from operators on how the relationship with the Employment Department could be improved as we prepare for the new rate structure. The new payroll tax rate for Unemployment Insurance (UI) will be announced mid-November and will take effect January 1. If you haven't already, please RSVP for these calls by emailing Glenda Hamstreet.
[Oct. 13, 2020] - Unemployment Insurance (UI) Taxes Paid By You Deserve Extra Attention
Every November, the Oregon Employment Department announces the rate schedule for Unemployment Insurance (UI) paid by employers through payroll tax for the upcoming calendar year. It should come as no surprise the rate employers will pay for 2021 is of concern to the hospitality industry given the adverse continuing impact the pandemic has had on available jobs due to decreased demand and health guidelines.
ORLA has opened up lines of communication with the Director’s Office at the Oregon Employment Department for interested members. On October 26 and 27, Interim Employment Department Director David Gerstenfeld will join hospitality operators to provide an update on Oregon’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund and the process undertaken to keep the fund solvent.
Included here is a recent presentation provided by Director Gerstenfeld to a handful of business colleagues representing various industries in Oregon. Currently, Oregon is in Rate Schedule 2 out of 8 possible rate structures. All 8 schedules (which you can view on Slide 6) have a range of possible payroll tax rates paid by employers. Each employer's actual rate depends on their ‘experience rating’ – the lower your experience rating the lower your applicable tax rate within each rate schedule.
Please plan to join us for an important discussion about the unemployment insurance taxes you pay at the applicable time below:
RSVP to join us for one of the upcoming Zoom discussions by emailing Glenda Hamstreet.
[Oct. 6, 2020] - There's More Work to Be Done
ORLA remains focused on engaging our local and state government leaders as we work to get all of Oregon’s 36 counties into Phase Two operations. We still have 4 counties to go so please take action if you have not done so already if you live or run your business in Malheur, Multnomah, Clackamas, or Washington Counties.
Our state has wrestled with two emergencies at the same time and key professional staff at ORLA have been working with officials at FEMA as we work to address fallout from Oregon wildfires on top of the impacts felt by us all from COVID. A big thanks to the professional staff at ORLA for finding a way to assist with shelter coordination efforts. Our efforts as a state association were recently recognized across the country in a recent FEMA presentation. That slide is included here as well as the bullet points referenced demonstrating the public/private partnership efforts.
There is so much left to accomplish. In addition to Phase Two for all Oregon counties we have proven our industry can operate safely and mitigate virus spread. As a result, it would be incredibly helpful to see the State of Oregon extend our 10pm curfew to midnight in acknowledgment of your hard work and also provide more flexibility on the 100 maximum (including staff) for indoor operations when square footage allows for safe social distancing of associated parties (10 people or less) in numbers larger than 100.
[Oct. 1, 2020] - It’s October 1 - The Clock is Ticking
We're asking Oregon hospitality operators to take action now to protect the viability of small businesses in Malhuer, Clackamas, Washington, and Multnomah Counties. We must enter Phase 2 across Oregon before the weather turns. Watch video for more information.
Call to Action: If you’re in Phase One, contact your county commissioners today and make sure they know what’s at stake for you and the Oregonians you employ.
Clackamas County Commissioners:
Malheur County Commissioners (chair is called Judge):
Multnomah County Commissioners:
Washington County Commissioners:
[To continue reading previous blog posts from ORLA's CEO, click "Read More" to the right]
[Sept. 22, 2020] - Oregon Hospitality Industry Economic Impact to Date
Earlier today, ORLA was invited to provide testimony featuring the latest economic impact data from Oregon’s hospitality industry. The Interim Senate Committee on Labor and Business received the following written testimony with ORLA’s oral testimony focused on the importance of a second round of Paycheck Protection Program funding from the federal government while also working with state leaders to safely get to Phase Two reopening status for Oregon’s remaining 5 counties still in Phase One. Malheur, Lincoln, Washington, Clackamas, and Multnomah counties remain focal points for ORLA. Once safety benchmarks are achieved in these regions, County Commissioners must act to protect small businesses and jobs wherever possible by entering into Phase Two.
To get more engaged with County Commissioners in your area, please reach out to your ORLA Regional Representative.
[Sept. 8, 2020] - Getting the Rest of Oregon’s Counties to Phase Two
As we officially pass Labor Day weekend, ORLA realizes the vital importance of making sure our hospitality industry is able to achieve Phase Two status in all Oregon counties before the weather turns. Operators from across the state continue to keep the ORLA professional staff apprised of their status with a mixed bag in play for Oregon’s restaurant and lodging operators. While some are finding a path forward others remain deeply concerned about their ability to survive.
One thing is for sure – we must get our counties to Phase Two before mid-November. Restaurants have added flexibility to utilize safety partitions to increase dining capacity in Phase Two and those types of tools will prove critical to assisting the industry with survival as the winter months approach.
ORLA was also watching closely for the possibility of a third session of the Oregon Legislature. The latest intelligence suggests a third special session will not take place this month. A potential trigger for a third special session would be action by Congress in DC to enact a fourth Coronavirus relief package. House Democrats and Senate Republicans remain divided as of the time of this writing on the price tag for the relief package. If a compromise in DC is solidified then we may see action by our state elected leaders to manage any relief requiring State of Oregon involvement. If we do not see action in DC or the action is separate from activities requiring state elected leaders to hold a special session, then we may not see the Oregon Legislature convene until their regularly scheduled session in February of 2021.
These are the latest updates from your state association. If you are looking to get involved in government affairs activity on behalf of your industry please reach out to ORLA’s Director of Government Affairs Greg Astley.
[Sept. 4, 2020] - Understanding the New Social Security Tax Deduction
The IRS recently posted the the following new release in regard to the Employee Social Security Tax Deferral:
Can employers “opt out” of allowing employees to take advantage of the deferral or do employers need to allow individual employees to take advantage of the deferral if they so choose?
Here's what we found out:
The Society for Human Resource Managers (SHRM) and the AICPA both agree that if an employer suspends Social Security payroll tax withholding for eligible employees it must do so for all employees as there is no guidance that allows for individuals to opt out. This is a clarification that has been requested but at this time there is no option for employers to do this on a case by case basis.
We strongly recommend employers not defer. Employees would be forced to double up on their payroll taxes in 2021 putting that much more financial hardship on those hardest hit.
Here are some additional resources on this subject:
If you have additional questions, please reach out to your regional representative.
[August 21, 2020] - Let’s Keep Oregon’s Hospitality Industry Open!
Yesterday Governor Kate Brown and Chief of Staff Nik Blosser held a Zoom call with the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association and other statewide trade associations and Chambers of Commerce to emphasize the importance of bringing down Oregon’s positive case count per 100,000 residents.
You can find the latest status report here.
According to the presentation, countries who have been successful opening up schools have achieved stabilization with no more than 10 new positive cases each week per 100,000 residents. That rate would be equivalent to a daily case count in Oregon of no more than 60. Currently, Oregon has stabilized at a rate of roughly 300 cases per day or 49.79 new positive cases each week per 100,000 residents.
ORLA continues to advocate tirelessly to keep the hospitality industry open. As part of today’s call, we made sure to draw ongoing attention to the Weekly COVID-19 Report published by the Oregon Health Authority. Access the latest weekly report published August 19.
The data is clear in Table 7 starting on Page 14. Oregon’s hospitality industry is not the problem and we continue to showcase best in class safety with approximately 97% compliance after thousands of inspections conducted on an ongoing basis by OLCC and Oregon OSHA.
We need to do everything we can to encourage all employees and customers to mask up not just in our workplaces but also in their private life. As showcased on Page 7 of the Governor’s Status Report Powerpoint, the top actions we can take to mitigate transmission with little or no economic impacts are:
Let’s work with our local Chambers of Commerce and our Young Professional groups around the state to make sure all know what is at stake. If we don’t do a better job of mitigating virus spread in private settings then we run the risk of facing additional government regulation and ongoing consumer confidence challenges.
Oregon’s hospitality industry is leading by example. Your efforts to mitigate virus spread are extraordinary. Let’s do our part to make sure everyone in our circles is doing their part in public and private to keep Oregon ahead of the game in this country in mitigating the transmission rate.
[August 11, 2020] - Special Session Highlights
The second Special Session of 2020 wrapped up in one day, just past 11:00 pm last night. While the focus was on agency budget cuts as we have discussed previously, ORLA was involved in a leadership role on Senate Bill 1701 helping to get it passed with bipartisan support yesterday.
Here are the quick highlights on Senate Bill 1701:
Quick update on the federal dynamics sent to us this morning from the National Restaurant Association for our ORLA members specifically interested in this:
[August 10, 2020] - ORLA Activity in the Special Session
Today marks the beginning of the second special session of 2020 and Oregon legislators are expected to wrap it up in 2-4 days. Many of our crucial needs as an industry are not on the table. There is an incredible amount of work we must continue to take on to aid in the survival of as many restaurant and lodging establishments as possible in Oregon.
Issues still in need of attention include:
Unemployment Insurance Benefits
Today, ORLA provided invited testimony in support of Senate Bill 1701 which is expected to move forward this special session. The bill would provide extra flexibility to employees to pick up shifts in our restaurant and lodging establishments around the state without having to sacrifice unemployment insurance benefits when working part time. Current law allows employees to earn ten times the minimum wage each week before losing access to unemployment benefits. Senate Bill 1701 proposes to increase the amount an employee can earn in a week up to $300 before they would risk losing unemployment benefits to subsidize their earned wages. Read ORLA’s written testimony on the issue submitted today.
Legislative Concept 2
ORLA sent a letter last week to Representative Nancy Nathanson, Chair, Members of the House Interim Committee on Revenue, and the Senate Finance Committee urging them to oppose Legislative Concept 2, an ill-conceived proposal that would have imposed $225 million in taxes on Oregon businesses including restaurants and accommodations. Legislative Concept 2 has been removed from consideration from this August Special Session. Industry members helped make a difference by reaching out to their legislators on this issue, a win for the industry.
The workers’ compensation presumption issue is not being taken up this August Special Session, but may still be discussed in the next Special Session. We will update you as this issue progresses. ORLA joined a letter with many other Oregon employers stating a COVID-19 presumption is not necessary based on the data available. Workers are filing claims; the claims are getting processed and are only getting denied on a limited basis (in the most typical instance, when it is determined the worker does not actually have COVID-19).
ORLA supports the Management recommendations from the Management-Labor Advisory Committee (MLAC) report on COVID-19. These recommendations ask that the “Draft COVID Rules” SAIF has been using to process their claims be adopted to fix any current problems with the system. They also recommend that the Department of Consumer and Business Services audit the procedures of the two insurers with high rates of denial of claims. Read the full report from the MLAC.
[August 6, 2020] – August Special Session Update
Final preparations are being made for the August Special Legislative Session by Speaker of the House Tina Kotek and Senate President Peter Courtney to focus in on general fund shortfalls in the State of Oregon. The session may last the duration of the upcoming week. An agreement has been made to focus on budgetary issues as part of the August session and issues including To-Go Cocktails which qualifies as an important industry priority will likely not be taken up based on the rules being established for the session. In addition, the state transient lodging tax has an uphill battle as it will most likely require a separate legislative bill as a non-general fund budgetary consideration. Outside of agency budget discussions, it is possible liability protection against COVID claims will be considered at the state level outside of considerations being entertained at the federal level.
It is of crucial importance to keep your relationships alive and well with your elected leaders representing you in the Oregon Legislature. To look up your House Representative and your State Senator, click on the Oregon State Legislature website and take steps to introduce yourself and engage in a relationship that is helpful to them based on your experience working in Oregon’s hospitality industry.
[August 5, 2020] - Latest Updates from Your Industry Association
The following is an update of activities from the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association. Please reach out to your Regional Representative as needed for additional guidance and any questions we can be of assistance with:
COVID-19 RELIEF: Our federal elected leaders continue to work on finding a compromise as they work through an ongoing negotiation process for what is expected to be the fourth and final coronavirus relief package. Top tier items under discussion include the federal weekly contribution amount for extended unemployment benefits, a second round of stimulus checks for American families, parameters around a second round of PPP loans, and a safe harbor provision to protect against COVID lawsuits when filed against businesses following Center for Disease Control and state health guidelines. ORLA expects clarity around details by Friday, August 14 given the looming summer recess and the need to return to constituents with tangible outcomes accomplished in DC before the November election.
Industry members are encouraged to engage in action alerts from the National Restaurant Association and the American Hotel & Lodging Association and make sure your voice is heard in DC:
TRAVEL ADVISORY TALK: There have been rumblings for a few weeks regarding the creation of a travel advisory to Oregon. In conversations with the Governor’s Office, it is clear the magnitude of logistics tied to any travel advisory and the associated challenges in enforcing any advisory could prove to be nearly impossible. ORLA is working to learn more about the onset of any new travel announcement by the Governor’s Office which to date seems to be focused on tourist travel originating outside of Oregon from specific states managing higher concentrations of virus spread.
SPECIAL SESSION: The second special session of the Oregon Legislature will take place this coming week from Monday, August 10 – Wednesday, August 12. It is clear there is very little appetite for any legislation that does not directly deal with the state’s budget gap and cuts to agency budgets. As recently as last night, there remains an open question as to whether any “policy” issues will find their way on the agenda. We are pushing for consideration of to-go cocktails for restaurants and the Governor continues to push for a 1.8% statewide lodging tax with industry support. It is unclear whether either issue makes the cut. The nature of the pandemic and the logistics of the special sessions puts an incredible amount of power in the hands of Oregon’s Speaker of the House Tina Kotek and Oregon’s Senate President Peter Courtney. These two elected leaders have ultimate decision making authority to advance issues within the Oregon House and Senate.
Connect with your legislators and get your voice to be heard. Sign up to be a Hospitality Advocate and text "ORLA" to 52886.
[July 28, 2020] - Latest Updates from the Association
We grappled with more challenging news this past week when the Governor implemented a 10:00 pm curfew for dining at bars and restaurants across the entire state and capped all indoor spaces regardless of industry to a max of 100 people including staff indoors and 250 outdoors. These are tough realities and the restrictions could have been more harsh without the work that was put it. The week before last, we worked with OLCC on a press release and the industry heard our call to action to keep restaurants open and responded with approximately 330 unique small business messages to the Governor’s office in a 24 hour period this past week. Our Phone2Action system now has over 1,000 mobilizers and is proving effective in ‘sounding the alarm.’ There are 3 states in the country that currently have their indoor dining rooms completely closed. Those states are California, New Mexico, and New Jersey. Washington State has new rules taking effect later this week which include indoor dining parties consisting of immediate households only in addition to indoor shutdowns of taverns, wineries, breweries, and distilleries.
As you have most likely heard in the news, the US House and Senate have a gap to fill in their proposed CARES 4 package desires back in DC. The Senate proposal released yesterday is a $1 trillion package and would include a second round of PPP for the vast majority of our members, enhancements to the Employee Retention Tax Credit (more to come soon on this), and liability protections for employers against frivolous COVID claims when the employer is following all CDC and OHA guidelines. A few of the downsides include having to demonstrate a 50% revenue loss in your second quarter to access PPP, PPP loans are still not tax deductible, and it appears PPP may be extended to Chambers of Commerce and Destination Marketing Organizations but not to trade associations like ours. We’ll make sure to continue pushing out the latest updates in partnership with our friends at the American Hotel & Lodging Association, Asian American Hotel Owners Association, and the National Restaurant Association.
ORLA held two forums with leadership from Oregon OSHA on July 28. ORLA is officially serving on a formal workgroup to assist with business representation as they tackle the creation of a new infectious disease standard rule. Both a temporary rule (can only last up to 180 days) and permanent rule will be created with the goal of standardizing employer safety requirements from the rigmarole we have experienced through constantly changing OHA protocols. Below is some helpful information from Oregon OHSA on what their process looks like and what we can expect once a temporary rule is adopted in September.
Attached here is a press release from ‘People Not Politicians’ announcing extended time to collect signatures for Oregon’s redistricting initiative. Secretary Clarno released her decision in response to a preliminary order issued by Judge Michael J. McShane on July 10 to grant People Not Politicians, a broad and diverse coalition that has come together to create an independent citizens commission for Oregon, relief to qualify its redistricting reform initiative for the November 2020 election. The judge’s order allowed the Secretary of State to decide by 5:00pm Monday, July 13, 2020 to either accept People Not Politician’s signatures as submitted, or accept a reduced number of signatures to 58,789 and allow additional time to gather until August 17, 2020. The campaign submitted over 64,000 signatures on July 2.
[July 22, 2020] - New Requirements for Oregon Businesses
Effective July 24, specific to the hospitality industry:
The Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association will continue to highlight how seriously we take our commitment to safety for employees and guests. Over the course of the past 3-4 weeks, hundreds of random inspections have been conducted by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission and Oregon OSHA to ensure industry adherence to safety guidelines and procedures with 99% compliance. Our industry continues to work tirelessly to maintain environments that are safe for dining and lodging.
We have concerns about today’s announcement asking all foodservice establishments to conclude operations by 10pm. We know hospitality and human interaction will not cease at 10pm each night. Moreover, human interaction at that time will simply transition to private environments which are less safe and less controlled. This reality should concern all Oregonians if we follow the data and the transmission rate increases being tied to private social gatherings.
The data from state agencies shows small, private social gatherings are one of the primary factors in transmission. Oregon restaurants have been and are complying with, as well as actively promoting safe practices around wearing face coverings, washing hands and staying physically distant.
Oregon’s hospitality industry undergoes some of the highest scrutiny when it comes to healthy working environments, food safety and cleanliness with regular inspections by county health departments and state agencies. As operators, our business and our employees depend on guests feeling comfortable enough to not only visit us for the first time but return again and again to our establishments.
For time-sensitive updates and to sign up to help tell your story and how these regulations impact your business, please text “ORLA” to 52886 or contact your local Membership Representative.
[June 3, 2020] - Oregon Phase Two Guidance is Finalized: Wins and the Need for More Flexibility
Today marks an important day in Oregon’s ongoing reopening process. You can review the latest guidelines announced today for Phase Two through the following links:
ORLA has been directly engaged in ongoing discussions with the Governor’s Office which resulted in the following areas of flexibility in Phase Two:
Our work continues with what I will call Phase 2.1 as there are still ongoing challenges that need to be addressed. Based on industry feedback, these are the issues that still exist that need to be fixed in Phase Two as soon as possible:
We greatly appreciate the ongoing working relationship with the Oregon Health Authority and the Governor’s Office and look forward to addressing our ongoing needs as an industry as counties begin preparing for the Phase Two reopening process.
[May 18, 2020] - Commitment to Safety
Our state has officially taken steps to reopen portions of our economy previously closed including restaurants and bars in most areas. Announcements this past week from Governor Brown and the official website for all industry guidance documents can be viewed on the state's website. This page will serve as the digital headquarters in the months ahead and assist you in understanding where your county is in the phased reopening process.
It is one thing to have the legal ability to reopen and another thing entirely to instill confidence in the minds of your guests. According to data from Nielsen, about 1 in 5 have returned to on premise dining as outlets continue to reopen on a limited basis. And of those who have not yet returned, nearly half say they need to feel more comfortable visiting.
It is our responsibility at ORLA to make sure hospitality operators have every tool available to them to showcase our industry’s commitment to safety. To that end we are launching comprehensive checklists for both restaurant and lodging operations. These checklists can be utilized by ORLA members as a way to review all details of your operations and earn a Commitment to Safety Seal you can prominently display for both customers and employees.
We want to do everything possible to assist you in finding a path forward. It is going to be a challenge in the months ahead to survive on a fraction of the demand for your business you once enjoyed. We believe this tool can make a significant difference in your path to recovery.
ORLA’s regional representatives are here to help. Please reach out so they can assist you in your work to do everything you can to provide a safe and welcoming environment for your employees and your guests.
Thank you and our best to you and your team as we ramp back up to showcase what it means to serve Oregon hospitality.
[May 8, 2020] – This Week’s Updates
Yesterday, Governor Brown announced plans to begin reopening portions of Oregon’s economy that have remained closed for almost 2 months including dining rooms in bars and restaurants. In order to reopen, county governments must submit their plans to the Governor’s Office for approval. Representatives from the Oregon Health Authority referenced a commitment to a quick turnaround for county plans submitted with the expectation many counties will have the opportunity to reopen previously closed parts of their economies as early as Friday, May 15.
Lodging facilities, which were never closed by statewide order, continue to be devastated by decreases in demand. Due to marketplace dynamics and actions taken by local jurisdictions, regulations across Oregon differ for lodging establishments. Popular leisure travel destinations including Oregon’s north coast and Columbia River Gorge continue to deal with additional restrictions at the local level. Having said that, lodging facilities in general remain open for business travel with others determining plans for reopening after voluntary closures. The American Hotel & Lodging Association has launched the “Safe Stay” initiative to provide guidance to lodging operations moving through reopening procedures. In addition, lodging providers can access final employer guidelines specific to Oregon here. See specific guidance for outdoor recreation organizations here.
Restaurant, bars, breweries, tasting rooms, and distilleries were all given the go ahead to open in Oregon’s Phase One plan. Timelines associated with opening these hospitality businesses will be contingent upon the approval of county plans. Some counties will have their plans reviewed by the Oregon Health Authority as early as today, May 8 which paves the way for a potential May 15 opening. ORLA was successful in advocating for the removal of an initial plan to have foodservice operators document the movements of their customers. In addition, there was agreement to remove the percentage space requirement emerging in many states which caps capacity at levels from 25 to 50% of maximum occupancy. In Oregon, there is no such requirement. Operators will be required to ensure physical distance of 6 feet between associated parties of 10 or less. You can view the final guidance for Oregon’s foodservice and beverage industry here. Arbitrary restrictions including a 10pm cutoff for dining room services in Phase One as well as partial opening of barstools/bar seating in specific scenarios continue to be industry concerns we hope to address in Phase Two guidelines.
There is a great deal left to accomplish. In the coming weeks, we will be:
If you haven’t already, make sure we have the best email address for you as an industry operator. In addition, you can sign up for ORLA text message alerts (by texting ORLA to 52886) so you have the intelligence we gather in real time.
[May 1, 2020] - This Week's Updates
[April 30, 2020] - Making Progress Towards Reopening, More to Be Done
Friends of Oregon Hospitality -
Throughout the month of April, ORLA has been focused on building momentum for industry relief efforts. We have made some progress on behalf of the hospitality industry, but more needs to be accomplished. We have also been focused on sharing your stories for Oregonians to better understand the devastating impacts of an Oregon economic shutdown and how it is felt in all corners of our state, particularly for those in the restaurants and lodging industries.
It is time to switch gears. According to the latest data from the Oregon Health Authority, we are successfully flattening the curve. And in many areas of Oregon, there is no curve to flatten.
In our last video address, we emphasized the importance of creating a framework for reopening Oregon’s hospitality industry. Trends are pointing toward reopening dining rooms, counter service operations, bars, and tasting rooms as part of a Phase One plan in Oregon. The opening of lodging operations beyond essential worker travel is also possible in Phase Two.
We want to thank the hospitality businesses across the state that have shared their recovery plans with us. Those plans have helped us to provide the industry expertise needed to push for practical reopening guidelines for that are as safe as possible for employees and customers.
In our latest communication, we outlined four industry imperatives for Governor Brown and her professional staff:
Please take a moment to view our comments in their entirety on the “COVID-19 Alerts & Resources” page. As we continue to work with the Governor’s office to develop these protocols, we will share information as soon as it becomes available to better help you and your teams prepare for this unprecedented reopening phase.
The coming weeks will prove crucial. Let’s work together to better understand the benchmarks we must meet to instill confidence in Oregonians that we have the health care capacity we need to meet demand and protect the health and safety of Oregonians, while getting serious about reopening our economy in a safe and responsible way.
[April 17, 2020] - Latest Reopening Plans from Governor's Office
Earlier today the Governor’s Chief of Staff Nik Blosser walked us through the slide deck on what an Oregon reopening framework looks like. Click the button to view the latest version (v.4) of the Public Health Framework for Restarting Public Life and Business:
The following our my takeaways from the presentation:
As a reminder, consider participating in one of our upcoming Virtual Town Halls.
[April 8, 2020]
Yesterday, Governor Kate Brown issued Executive Order 20-14 aligning Oregon’s current dine-in prohibition with thousands of other closed businesses across the state under Oregon’s ‘Stay Home, Save Lives’ order. Drive through, takeout, and delivery services remain optional for restaurants interested in operating at limited capacities. Lodging operations remain open in some cases to serve accommodation needs related to COVID-19 orders issued by Brown.
Oregon has clearly been successful in flattening the curve and that is a testament to our health care industry and the work which continues across our state. I have found this resource to be more helpful than most in tracking the peaks of Covid-19 on a case by case basis across the country:
In utilizing this tool for Oregon, modeling suggests our state will experience peak demand for health care services on April 24. If you start randomly choosing other states through the tool you will find that the economically painful mitigation efforts Oregon has taken have directly helped save lives.
In reviewing the data, it seems Oregon will be better positioned than most states to continue the crucial conversation of what relaxing social distancing policies looks like. How do we turn the corner for Oregon’s hospitality businesses and our approximately 200,000 employees? What does rebuild look like and over what duration?
ORLA is committed to leading alongside other business organizations in making sure the State of Oregon relaxes social distancing policies in line with a data driven approach. If the above projection holds true, Oregon should be positioned to gradually relax some restrictions as early as May. And we certainly hope that will be the case.
It is on all of us to demonstrate how we can hold the line on Oregon’s current peak projection and continue the sacrifices we are all making as we move through COVID-19 case decline later this month. When the data forecasts showcase a reduction in second wave risk, we need to move quickly to get Oregon in a position to rebuild. I believe this state can be a leader in that race. If you have ideas of how full proof social distancing procedures could be implemented in your business, please share your thoughts with me via email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
[April 1, 2020]
Today, Governor Kate Brown announced a 90-day moratorium on commercial evictions across Oregon. Executive Order 20-13 represents decisive action by Governor Brown to protect Oregon hospitality businesses and assist them in planning out a path to recovery. Our goal in working with all partners is to do whatever we can to assist our state in winning the race to recovery while keeping as many Oregonians employed as possible.
Governor Brown’s executive order states “a temporary moratorium on terminations of residential and nonresidential rental agreements and evictions on the basis of nonpayment is necessary during this emergency, to protect the public health, safety and welfare of all Oregonians. The moratorium set forth in this Executive Order is temporary, with a limited scope and duration. It addresses the immediate needs identified above, pursuant to my emergency powers, but does not otherwise undermine contractual bargains, interfere with parties' reasonable expectations, or prevent parties from safeguarding or reinstating their rights. The directives of this Executive Order are appropriate, necessary, and reasonable means by which to implement the significant and legitimate public purpose of responding to the declaration of a state of emergency I issued on March 8, 2020.”
ORLA continues to advocate for ongoing relief in partnership with federal, state, and local elected leaders. To view ORLA’s relief framework and add your business to the list of supporters click here: Sign On to ORLA's Proposed Relief Efforts.
[March 30, 2020]
In this morning's video address to the industry, I cover the following updates:
In case you missed it, ORLA created a Hospitality Action & Relief Center to help connect small businesses and their employees with ongoing statewide advocacy priorities and relief outcomes. Be sure to see the list of Relief Available for Employers & Employees we are constantly updating, as well as ORLA's Proposed Relief Efforts.
With the passage of the CARES Act, signed into law March 27, new relief opportunities are now available including: Paycheck Protection Program, Employee Retention Tax Credit, Qualified Improvement Property fix, and SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan Grants. Read more on our Federal Action Taken page.
[March 26, 2020]
The following update is being provided to the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association as a result of ongoing national partnerships taking place between the National Restaurant Association, American Hotel & Lodging Association, and the Asian American Hotel Owners Association. A special thanks to Sean Kennedy, Executive Vice President of Public Affairs at the National Restaurant Association for the following summary on our nation’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”):
Last night, congressional leaders finally released the final text of their $2 trillion coronavirus rescue package. The agreement includes a dramatic expansion of unemployment insurance, a rescue fund for state and local governments, immediate cash for hospitals, and a huge pool of grants and loans for small businesses.
Passage in both chambers is all but assured – the only question is one of timing. The Senate is on a path to pass the bill this evening. Timing of a House bill remains murky. A vote Thursday night or Friday morning is likely. President Trump is likely to sign the bill very soon thereafter.
Our formal assessment of the bill is attached. Overall the bill is very strong, with many provisions that specifically reflect our Association’s asks from last week. Here are the highlights of the deal:
The measure creates a $349 billion program for the SBA to offer unique loans to small businesses (500 or fewer employees). The loan amount is based on 250% of the borrower’s average monthly payroll cost for the preceding year (provisions for seasonal employers are included), up to $10 million. Collateral requirements are waived, and the “credit elsewhere” requirements (which have slowed down the process) have been waived as well. The loan is forgiven if used for payroll costs, mortgage interest, or rent/utilities.
The agreement offers restaurant owners relief in the form of Net Operating Loss (NOL) carrybacks, delay of payment of employer payroll taxes, and an Employee Retention Tax Credit.
Qualified Improvement Property
At long last, restaurants can immediately write off costs associated with improving facilities. The QIP fix is complete.
[March 25, 2020] - To Friends of Oregon Hospitality,
The following update was provided by our friends at the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) and the National Restaurant Association. Democratic Leader Schumer released a letter to his colleagues identifying what was secured in the bill. A summary of Democratic Leader Schumer’s list is below and ORLA will be working closely with our national partners today and tomorrow as the federal package moves through crucial votes and gets finalized.
President & CEO
Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association
[March 23, 2020] - Hello Friends of Oregon Hospitality:
Today, Governor Kate Brown executed Executive Order 20-12 which requires non-essential businesses outlined in the order to close effective 12:01 am on Tuesday, March 24. Here are comments from ORLA regarding the new executive order and what it means for Oregon’s restaurant and lodging operations:
President & CEO
Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association
[March 20, 2020] - ORLA continues to take unprecedented steps to engage in every possible way on COVID-19 in support of Oregon Hospitality. In the last 36 hours, significant updates have been added online to ORLA’s website which has been redesigned to hone in on the needs of industry members looking for answers in an ever changing environment.
The following steps have been taken in the past 36 hours:
President & CEO
[March 18, 2020] - ORLA CEO UPDATE FOR OREGON'S HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY
The ORLA team is working at a feverish pitch to provide the resources and opportunities restaurant and lodging businesses need to stay engaged and make a difference as we weather this monumental storm together. We have a laser-like focus on all things COVID-19 in service to you, our hospitality industry partners. Please see below for high level updates from our recent activities over the past day as we continue moving through an unprecedented workload:
Please stay strong and utilize the skill sets available to you on the ORLA professional staff. Our Government Affairs Team and our Regional Representatives on the ground are here to serve each of you, every day, until we get through this together.
President & CEO
[March 16, 2020] - STATEMENT BY ORLA PRESIDENT & CEO JASON BRANDT
Restaurants across Oregon serve as cornerstones of our local economies employing more than 155,000 people. From urban centers to rural towns, thousands of establishments provide us with places to break bread with family, friends, and build community.
Most of us know the experience of a favorite local restaurant, filled with familiar faces and employees who know us by name. Right now, that restaurant is hurting -- and the workers and families who depend on our patronage are wondering how they will put food on the table.
Effective midnight tonight (at 12:01 a.m., March 17, 2020), Governor Brown has ordered all dining rooms across Oregon to close over a 4 week period. This decision will have immediate and immeasurable impacts on thousands of Oregon families who depend on Oregon’s restaurant industry for a paycheck. Immediate unemployment insurance relief is crucial with a removal of the one-week waiting period and removal of the search for work requirement. Additional relief needs will also prove crucial for Oregon’s broader hospitality industry and all impacted employees.
The social distancing required to slow the spread of COVID-19 means we need to temporarily change our lives, especially around our favorite gathering spaces as recently announced by Oregon Governor Kate Brown and many health experts from around the world. Oregonians must not forget about the families and workers whose lives depend on restaurants, bars, wineries and brewpubs during this time. They need our support, and that is why our industry is mobilizing to expand take-out and delivery options to serve our customers over the coming weeks. If we can't eat out, now is the time for Oregonians to order in.
We must stay resolved and committed to the important role of hospitality to our economy, culture and everyday lives. Once these social isolation measures lift, Oregonians all share a collective responsibility to do our part to quickly return to our favorite gathering spots and put paychecks back onto the kitchen tables of hundreds of thousands of Oregon families who may not get one over the coming months.
[March 12, 2020] - ORLA CEO UPDATE FOR OREGON'S HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY
The Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association (ORLA) exists to protect, improve, and promote Oregon hospitality. We find ourselves in an incredibly challenging situation as our industry works to mitigate panic around the growing concern of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Oregon and throughout the country.
As of last night, Governor Kate Brown has declared a ban on gatherings of 250 people or more in Oregon over the course of the next 4 weeks. This will undoubtedly have an immeasurable impact on industry employees and business operations. ORLA will continue to keep lines of communication open with the Governor’s office, the Oregon Health Authority, and other key leaders in our state as we work to gather data on the economic impact the coronavirus (COVID-19) threat is having and as we seek relief for impacted hospitality employees and businesses.
The following list summarizes work being conducted at ORLA on your behalf. Please save this email for reference and share as needed.
All hospitality businesses in Oregon have access to ORLA’s coronavirus resource page at OregonRLA.org/covid19. The following site represents our digital headquarters for all resource links, employer tips, safety guidelines, and decontamination services. This site will be updated regularly as we continue responding to industry needs in partnership with the National Restaurant Association, the American Hotel & Lodging Association, and the Asian American Hotel Owners Association.
ORLA’s Online Member Portal
Additional work is being put into document development for ORLA members beyond the resource page linked above. A member login and password for this section is required. Primary documents behind ORLA’s member wall in the Resource Library include template examples members can use as a starting point for how to communicate with both employees and customers. If you need access to your ORLA User Name and Password, please reach out directly to Jennifer Starr via email at email@example.com.
Advocacy on behalf of Oregon Hospitality
Your statewide association is working to make sure key elected officials understand the economic impact of decisions being made as they work in partnership with public health officials to manage the spread of the coronavirus. A term called ‘flattening the curve’ is the ultimate goal of elected leaders and public health officials. The term represents an effort to keep demand for coronavirus health care services at or below the capacity of our state’s health care system. The short term effect will directly correlate to economic loss and as such, we need to collect data now to best represent relief needs of the industry in association with our national partners. Please stay tuned as ORLA develops ongoing survey outreach in an effort to track the magnitude of the impact so we can best represent the needs of your business and your employees.
In addition, we are asking the Governor’s office for consideration against any travel bans in Oregon as well as relief for Oregon hospitality employers and employees. Focus areas for us to date include:
Stay Up To Date with Push Notifications
The situation relating to coronavirus is changing on a daily basis. As a result, we are repurposing our mobile push notifications in the short term for coronavirus updates including actions you can take to assist us at ORLA in representing your interests. Text “ORLA” to 52886 to get signed up as we work to gather economic data on industry impact and keep you apprised of the latest developments. Confidentiality relating to any data shared will be a top priority for us.
I’ll close by saying it continues to be an honor for those of us on ORLA’s professional staff to serve Oregon hospitality. We believe in the importance of integrity and transparency in all that we do and you have our commitment to continue walking alongside each of you as we collectively navigate our current challenges and those that we will face together in the future.
President & CEO