March 18, 2020
Contact: Glenda Hamstreet, Executive Coordinator
Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association
Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association responds to COVID-19 impacts on restaurant and lodging industries
Wilsonville, OR. – In light of increasing concerns around the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and recent executive orders from the Governor’s office, the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association (ORLA) is making every effort to address challenges facing the restaurant and lodging industry.
The lodging and foodservice industry is the second largest private-sector industry in Oregon behind healthcare and is one of the hardest hit by coronavirus-related shutdowns and policies. ORLA represents approximately 2,600 members, including over 10,220 foodservice locations and more than 2,000 lodging establishments in Oregon.
“The social distancing mandates put into place by the Governor are an important step toward ensuring the health and safety of all Oregonians,” ORLA President and CEO Jason Brandt said. “However, we cannot forget about the many families and workers whose lives depend on restaurants, lodging operations, bars, wineries and brewpubs. The foodservice and lodging industries are already seeing unprecedented numbers of layoffs as restaurants temporarily close their doors and hotels see significant declines in occupancy.”
ORLA is encouraging Oregonians to support local restaurants and hotels by ordering takeout or delivery or by purchasing gift certificates.
“Now is the time for our state to support local restaurants and hotels. If we can’t eat out, now is the time to eat in,” said Brandt. “Our industry is resilient and will get through these trying times, but we will need the help of our customers and state and local officials to do so. When purchasing gift certificates for hotels and restaurants, make sure the cash from your purchase is being received immediately by the business so they can save as many jobs as possible.”
For many restaurants, the only viable option following the Governor’s executive order was to temporarily close and lay off staff. ORLA is making every effort at this time to ensure workers and restaurant owners have the relief they need to protect jobs and ensure they are able to re-open their doors once the COVID-19 restrictions have passed.
“Our entire team at ORLA is working around the clock with state and local officials to facilitate job protection and business continuity. We have open lines of communication with the Governor’s office, the City of Portland and other public officials to work toward solutions that will mitigate the economic impacts the industry is facing at this time,” said Brandt.
In the past two days, Brandt has participated as an active member of the Governor’s Coronavirus Economic Advisory Council and presented comprehensive testimony alongside Director of Government Affairs Greg Astley to the Joint Special Committee on Coronavirus Response.
Media can obtain a copy of the comprehensive report here: COVID-19 Economic Impact on Oregon Hospitality Industry
Over the last month, hotels have seen steep declines in occupancy as events are cancelled and guests are cancelling travel plans. Travel in the Portland area is reported to be down 50% already in March and one hotel in Bend reported a loss of $600,000 in one week this month.
“If lock downs and shelter in place are put in effect, it is important the Governor, City Officials and the Legislature look at hotels as ‘Essential Services’ for planning purposes,” said Brandt. “People who are traveling or stranded will need accommodations.”
Nationally, COVID-19 is expected to result in a loss of 2.8-3.4 million jobs in the hotel industry and a decline to 25% occupancy nationwide. By comparison, the recession of 2001 and 9/11 saw 400,000 jobs lost and a decline to 59% occupancy, while the recession of ’07-’09 saw 470,000 jobs lost and 54% occupancy.
“Everyone in the hospitality industry is struggling right now. Many hotels and restaurants are having to lay off employees due to a loss of business. It is vital that federal, state and local authorities make every effort to protect those who depend on the industry for their livelihood. The need for a collective sense of urgency in driving relief solutions for small businesses and employees cannot be overstated,” said Brandt.
ORLA will continue to provide comprehensive updates and resources for the restaurant and lodging industries on their website through the duration of the pandemic: https://www.oregonrla.org/covid19_info.html.