Hospitality Industry FAQs (COVID-19)
The following is a running list of frequently asked questions (FAQ) from industry members. Please note, this page will be updated regularly. Jump to:
How can I take advantage of the Employee Retention Tax Credit for 2020?
Where do I find updated information on the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)?
What kind of relief is available for employers and employees?
What will reopening look like for Oregon and for our industry?
What tools are available to me as I work on reopening?
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?
I’ve heard that the CARES Act provides forgivable loan opportunities for small businesses. How does that program work?
What’s the first step I should take to apply for funds through the Paycheck Protection Program?
What can be paid for by funds received through the Paycheck Protection Program?
What are some of the things to consider with the 8-week loan window? (Update – now 24 weeks)
Where can I find participating leaders for the Paycheck Protection Program?
How are part-time employees accounted for in the Paycheck Protection Program?
Where is the PPP forgiveness application? What else should I beware of for forgiveness?
Will my PPP loan forgiveness amount be reduced if I offered to rehire the same employee, but the employee declined the offer?
Do you recommend paying employees bonuses with the PPP loan?
What is happening with the Corporate Activities Tax? How does the CAT work with the PPP?
How can operators pay themselves during this time?
If a business decides to pay employees but keep its doors closed, are employees required to come to work?
I’ve heard the Families First Coronavirus Response Act requires employers to provide paid leave to employees unable to work due to COVID-19. If an employee was laid off before the bill’s effective date on April 1st, 2020 and they are no longer employed, would the past employer be liable for paid leave?
What are some of the options I have for my business during this time regarding employment?
I’ve heard that some individuals claiming unemployment may receive more in unemployment benefits than working. What are some ways to make things work for my business in spite of that?
What do employers do regarding salary employees and pay if the business needs to close for a duration of time?
What do I do if an employee has COVID-19 or a confirmed guest is traced to my business?
Do you have any recommendations for how businesses can manage communications around COVID-19, particularly if an employee or customer is diagnosed with the virus?
I’ve heard some places are instituting temperature checks and face covering usage.
I have questions on face covering requirements. What if my employee says they have a medical exemption? What if my employee says they can’t breathe in a hot kitchen, for example?
How should we handle anti-mask individuals?
What about the HVAC system in my facility?
What if my employees are engaging in leisure travel? Are employers allowed to ask about where they are taking their vacation? Are employers allowed to request a test done before returning?
If I have businesses under separate entities, should I file for multiple SBA disaster relief loans? Where is the money coming from?
I’ve chosen to close my business permanently. What are the steps I need to take for that?
What can I do to help?
Can a restaurant mandate mask use by customers?
- While operators may need to provide special accommodations for people with disabilities, there is nothing to prohibit a restaurant from saying “no shoes, no shirt, no mask, no service!” See the Restaurant Law Center's Guidance for Restaurants: Guests’ Face Covering Use for guidance addressing face mask mandates, guest refusal and confrontations. See also OHA's Statewide Reopening Guidance – Masks, Face Coverings, Face Shields.
When can Video Lottery Terminals be turned back on?
- As of Jan. 29, 2021, if your business is located in a county categorized at “Extreme Risk” for Covid infections, you have an opportunity to reactivate your Video Lottery business. At this time, only establishments offering outdoor dining, delivery or to-go service qualify.
- Spacing Between Terminals: Video Lottery terminals must be placed to accommodate a minimum of six feet between players. If this distance can be achieved, up to six terminals will be re-enabled. Physical barriers cannot be used in lieu of the spacing requirements. If you have previously approved barriers, you will be able to again use them when your county’s risk level moves to a lower category.
- Other Requirements in "Extreme Risk" Counties
- Ensure there are no more than six (6) people total atVideo Lottery terminals inside the establishment. Enforce a limit of one player at or around each video terminal.
- You must comply with capacity limits for outdoor dining, which includes Video Lottery players.
- Video Lottery players must wear masks or face coverings at all times following the statewide mask, face covering, face shield guidance.
- Video Lottery players are prohibited from eating or drinking indoors.
- All other best practices (such as check-in procedures and cleaning protocols) remain in effect.
- Read more about COVID reopening FAQ and protocols at Oregonlottery.org/for-retailers.
What is the Governor’s directive on restaurants and dining rooms?
- Effective March 17th, Governor Brown ordered dining rooms to close indefinitely. No onsite consumption of food or beverages is allowed in those counties that are still closed and have not entered Phase One reopening. Read the Executive Order here. To see what phase your county is in, visit here.
- The Governor has released guidance on Phase One reopening for restaurants and general guidance for employers, as well as Phase Two guidance for restaurants. The counties will need to demonstrate that they are meeting public health criteria to enter the next phase of reopening.
- OHA has released an FAQ for restaurant and bars related to reopening guidance, with clarification on issues like aisles, bathroom monitors, and a 10:00 pm curfew.
What is the penalty for staying open?
- Refusal to comply with the Executive Order will result in a Class C misdemeanor. In Oregon, the maximum penalty is a $1,250 fine and/or 30 days in jail.
Who is enforcing the Executive Order?
- Law enforcement will be responsible for ensuring compliance with the Executive Order. Oregon OSHA and the OLCC have also been directed to inspect and enforce rules such as bar seating, social distancing, and gatherings.
Are individuals allowed to go into restaurants, order takeout food, and wait there for it in the baseline phase?
- Yes – however businesses must implement social distancing of at least six feet between customers “ordering, waiting, or in line.”
For many restaurants, takeout or delivery only is not a sustainable business model; how do I address my labor needs this way?
- If a takeout/delivery-only model is not sustainable for your business model and social distancing isn't possible, closure may be the best option for your business. If you decide to close, please see our Relief Available for Employers and Employees page.
- As more and more places in Oregon have moved toward expanding outdoor dining, ask your local government what they are doing to help businesses easily move to outdoor seating.
In some especially rural areas, restaurants may be the only place residents get their meals. What do our options look like if we can't socially distance and have to move to delivery and take out only?
- We understand that in many rural communities, the only way to access food outside of the home is in a restaurant. We encourage your team to take advantage of the delivery and take out model by delivering food to customers car-side or utilizing current employees to serve as delivery drivers.
- The following video includes recommended best practices for restaurants during this time: Boosting Sales: Takeout & Delivery Ideas that Work.
How do we reach our clientele that is not Internet-savvy and may not be able to navigate delivery services through businesses like Grubhub, Caviar, DoorDash, etc.?
- If your business isn’t compatible with existing delivery services, we encourage you to engage customers by posting your menu online, on your social media channels or outside your restaurant and requesting that customers place orders over the phone or over the counter for takeout.
Are there any recommended best practices to ensure social distancing and safety while operating on a takeout/delivery-only model?
- Yes, many restaurants are implementing “contact-less” pickup for pre-paid orders and delivery service drivers. Orders are placed on a shelf in the restaurant’s lobby, empty dining room or near the door so customers and drivers picking up orders have minimal contact with restaurant staff or other customers.
- The National Restaurant Association launched two new training videos on ServSafe Takeout and Delivery: COVID-19 Precautions. These videos are offered complimentary, on demand, in both English and Spanish.
How do you recommend we let our customers know that we’re open for takeout and delivery?
- Sign up for your free listing on Oregon2Go.com. ORLA created this consumer-facing site to help Oregonians find restaurants, food carts, wineries, breweries, and more that are providing takeout, delivery, and curbside options. Submit your listing request at Oregon2Go.com/submit-a-business.
- Your restaurant’s social media channels and website are great tools to share information with your customers including temporarily adjusted hours, special takeout/delivery menus or other services you may be providing.
- The Portland Business Journal is offering a free service to restaurants where they can post to-go menus or information about other offerings. To utilize this resource, click here.
I want to create an outdoor seating area. How many sidewalls are allowed on a tent or canopy that would cover that space?
- For the purposes of this guidance, “outdoor space” is defined as an open-air space which may have a temporary or fixed cover (e.g. awning or roof) so long as such space has at least seventy-five percent of the square footage of its sides open for airflow.
What other creative ways are restaurants providing services to customers at this time?
- Some restaurants are enhancing revenue and providing much-needed services for customers by selling basic grocery items such as toilet paper, cleaning supplies and pantry staples. Others are offering meal kits or ready-to-bake items. Some of these creative tactics are outlined here. ORLA is working on clarifying that these sales are exempt from the Corporate Activities Tax.
Can restaurants sell uncooked meat products to help supplement shortages in grocery stores? What about bulk items?
- Yes, this is allowed when sold to the end consumer (retail) with proper labeling, handling and cooking instructions. The meat sold needs to have been USDA inspected (from the restaurant’s supplier) and may be repackaged. If you are planning to vacuum seal the raw meat, you are required to have a HACCP plan (this is spelled out in rule). It would be safer not to vacuum package the meat. As long as the annual sales for raw meat do not exceed food for immediate consumption, restaurants do not need an ODA meat sellers license and may sell uncooked meat under their current license. Verbiage for safe handling of raw meat instructions can be found here. For more guidance on raw and bulk items, click here.
If I am not serving food or drinks in the baseline phase, can I still operate Lottery if it’s fewer than 10 people and someone is available to cash out tickets?
- No - if your dining room is closed by Executive Order at this time and you are not serving food or drinks, you may not operate Lottery.
Am I still expected to pay my annual Lottery amusement tax?
- Yes, the amusement device tax is administered by the Department of Revenue (DOR), which has directed Lottery as the collection agent to continue to collect the tax as usual. ORLA has engaged with the DOR to see if they would be willing to allow us to proactively work on a payment plan with retailers.
Can I offer growlers fills as part of our delivery service? What steps may I need to take to expand alcohol delivery?
- As of March 19, 2020, the OLCC has announced that licensees that currently have an Off-Premises license – or a license that includes Off-Premises Sales Privileges with Same-Day Delivery, now have approval to make delivery of malt beverages, wine and cider to customers curbside. OLCC has also created a streamlined application process for existing Limited On-Premises Sales and Full On-Premises Sales Licensees (restaurants & bars) to start selling malt beverages, wine and cider to go. Qualified licensees can apply for a “90-day Authority To Operate” (ATO) with an Off-Premises Sales license. The link to start the application is found here.
- The OLCC has added an FAQ for alcohol-related COVID-19 questions – including delivery and used growlers.
- ORLA is advocating legislators for the right to sell alcohol, including mixed drinks, as take-out, curbside pickup or delivery as part of our efforts to facilitate job protection and business continuity. We will provide updates as they become available.
If my area is moving toward outdoor dining, what does that mean for my license with the OLCC?
- The OLCC has announced licensees are allowed to expand into additional indoor areas or onto sidewalks, parking lots, or streets with the permission of the property owner or local government. This announcement serves to allow greater flexibility in creating more usable customer space due to social distancing guidelines. If you plan to modify your space to include addition space per this announcement, please fill out the application here. Be sure to check with your local government on what is required to expand outdoor seating.
What Phase One reopening guidance is there from the OLCC?
- For information on Phase One guidance from the OLCC, please visit here.
Why are distilleries selling cocktails-in-a-can and restaurants/bars cannot?
- In conversations with the OLCC, a drink made by a Full On-Premises Sales license is different than what distilleries are currently being allowed to do. Distilleries are selling factory-sealed containers of “cocktail-in-a-can” that they make in a TTB-bonded area and then is approved for sale by the OLCC. Mixed drinks for take-out will require legislative changes for the OLCC to allow it, which ORLA is rounding up legislative support for in Salem.
I read the OLCC is accepting returns. How does that work?
- Yes, you may return bottles of liquor to the same store where you purchased the bottles. OLCC will waive the 8% re-stocking fee for the duration of the temporary policy only. Prior to returning the bottles, you must request an authorization to return by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Once this request is received, OLCC will send you an email authorization. The liquor store will receive an informative email as well. You will then make contact with the liquor store to set an appointment to return the bottles.
Are restaurants/bars required to notify OLCC if they close due to COVID-19?
- OLCC has temporarily suspended its requirement for licensees to notify the Commission of the reason for its closure and its estimated reopening date. Previously, failure to give this closure notice may have resulted in a fine, suspension or refusal to renew.
I have decided to close. What are some best practices for closing procedures?
- Here is a sample checklist for closing procedures.
Can I suspend my liquor liability insurance while my dining room is closed to save on costs?
- As of April 22, 2020, the Commission is relaxing its enforcement of a rule that requires licensees to close for 90 days or more when suspending their Liquor Liability Insurance (LLI). This means a bar or restaurant can choose to suspend its LLI coverage. Licensees that want to proceed must notify the OLCC. The OLCC has created a COVID-19 Temporary Change LLI fact sheet and a submission form for licensees to notify the OLCC if they decide to suspend their LLI coverage. The businesses will not be able to provide any alcohol service without coverage. Licensees are also required to notify the OLCC when coverage is re-established.
- The OLCC will also temporarily suspend collection of liquor license fees scheduled for renewal while the Executive Orders that require social distancing are in effect. The OLCC will return license renewal payments to any licensee required to make a payment for a first quarter 2020 license renewal, if the licensee requests it.
I want to be prepared for when we are able to reopen with appropriate social distancing. What things should I be thinking about to maintain safety?
- The National Restaurant Association, with input from the Food and Drug Administration and public health experts, has released a guide covering food safety, cleaning and sanitizing, employee health monitoring and personal hygiene, and social distancing. View the Reopening Guidance here.
- The National Restaurant Association has also established the ServSafe Dining Commitment, a program aiming to reassure customers that the restaurants they love are open, trained in new sanitation and safety procedures, and committed to the health and enjoyment of their diners.
- Safety Northwest has developed an excellent checklist of practices to consider. View it here.
- Fournier Group has created a helpful “COVID-19 Reopening Guide for Food + Beverage” to make sure your business’ bases are covered.
What does bar seating look like with partitions? Where can I find partitions for my restaurant?
- ORLA allied member NiceBadge.com offers customized partitions and sneeze guards.
What can I do to help? Where can I share the impacts that coronavirus is having on my business?
- To take action on the local/state level, click here; for our federal efforts, visit here.
- While ORLA continues to advocate on behalf of restaurant and lodging owners among policymakers and officials at the state and local level, we encourage you to continue to share your story wherever you feel comfortable.
How can hotels best protect their guests during this time?
- The CDC has recommended practices for hotels, resorts, and lodges here.
- The American Hotel & Lodging Association has many helpful resources available on their website for hotel owners and operators: https://www.ahla.com/facts-about-coronavirus.
- The American Hotel & Lodging Association has launched “Safe Stay” – an initiative for enhanced industry-wide cleaning standards.
- Oregon Health Authority has released a guide on cleaning hotel rooms after a potentially COVID-19 positive guest has stayed in them.
Can hotels still offer continental breakfast? What if guests take it back to their room?
- All food at hotels must be “to go” orders, which means they can be enjoyed in the privacy of hotel rooms but not in continental breakfast areas or other gathering places.
How does “Stay Home, Save Lives” impact Oregon lodging properties?
- Lodging operations were not closed by the original Executive Order with the exception of public and private campgrounds. Hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, and RV Parks providing shelter for emergency responders, health care specialists, and other workers not banned by today’s Executive Order may remain open in service to these guests. Social distancing protocols must be enacted for all lodging establishments who are choosing to stay open. Failure to comply with the Governor’s Executive Order could result in immediate closure by government officials.
- Update - Pools and spas are allowed in Phase 1 and Phase 2 under certain conditions; see Licensed Swimming Pools, Licensed Spa Pools and Sports Courts Guidance and Frequently Asked Questions for Reopening Pools and Spas. Fitness centers should follow this guidance in Phase 1 and 2.
Are hotels required to provide full refunds to guests who need to cancel their travel plans?
- At this time, hotels are not required to provide full refunds for cancellations. Hotels may continue to adhere to their existing cancellation policies.
I’ve heard Multnomah County and Clackamas County have issued hotel vouchers to help slow the spread of coronavirus. What does this mean for hotels?
- Yes, on March 17, Chair Deborah Kafoury issued additional emergency measures that gave direction on vouchers for hotels and motels in Multnomah County. These vouchers will be subsidized by the County or a County contractor. If these vouchers are presented at your business, you and your staff are required to accept them. Clackamas County has issued a similar directive.
Are there efforts to commandeer private property at this point in Oregon?
- Multnomah County did declare in its announcement that they reserved the right to “act on appropriate requests for compensation, commandeer or utilize any private property if deemed necessary to cope with the emergency.” Clackamas County has issued a similar directive. We will keep you alerted to any other declarations such as these.
I may want to serve as a lodging property for individuals with vouchers or lease my property to the government to aid with the COVID-19 crisis. Where can I learn more?
- The American Hotel & Lodging Association launched their “Hospitality for Hope” program, with the goal of supporting the health care community, first responders, displaced employees, and local communities during the crisis. Over 15,000 lodging properties across the country have signed up to help! If you are interested in leasing your property to the federal government or other opportunities to help with lodging to serve Oregonians during the COVID-19 crisis, please fill out this online form.
- For more information on participating in the Hospitality for Hope program, take a look at their Hotels Supporting Healthcare COVID Toolkit.
- As this crisis progresses, Oregon public health officials may have lodging needs for various members of the community. Please contact email@example.com if you are interested in such opportunities.
- The Oregon Health Authority has received funds to temporarily relocate individuals in hotels/motels in response to COVID-19. These funds are not specific to people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19, but can be used to prevent exposure or to provide financial support to someone who has recently lost income or other resources due to COVID-19 and is searching for housing. If your hotel/motel is interested in participating (and not in Multnomah, Clackamas, Washington, Polk, or Marion counties), complete the application form or contact Amber Smith at AMBER.C.SMITH@dhsoha.state.or.us to establish your hotel/motel as vendor.
How do the new state eviction and rent laws impact lodging facilities?
- Landlord and tenant laws only apply to renters without a “transient occupancy” in a hotel or motel. A transient occupancy is in effect when all of the following conditions are met: 1) rent is charged per day and is not collected more than six days in advance; and 2) maid and linen service is provided at least once every two days; and 3) the person has not lived there more than 30 days. If any of those factors are not met, the individual is not in a transient occupancy. If you have someone on your property who is no longer in a “transient occupancy,” refer to this handbook on the new laws related to payment and evictions in COVID-19.
I saw that President Trump directed the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to suspend residential evictions and foreclosures through April. Does this apply to commercial properties such as hotels?
- No – HUD has confirmed that this does not apply to hotels.
Which local governments have required hotels and lodging facilities to close due to COVID-19?
- Clatsop County has required closure of all hotels, campgrounds, short-term rentals and homestay lodging with limited exceptions. Update – Lodging operators are now able to operate at 60 percent capacity, moving to 100 percent on June 26th. Read more here.
- Curry County has passed an order to restrict transient lodging. The order would not apply to cities that have passed their own resolutions; see below for those orders. Update – Curry County has lifted its restrictions but still does not encourage leisure travel at this time.
- Deschutes County is prohibiting short-term rental stays in unincorporated and rural areas of the County. Update – The order from Deschutes County has now expired.
- Lincoln County is lifting restrictions on lodging operations as of June 1st, with some areas opening sooner. Lodging operators are asked to fill out the reopening application here.
- Tillamook County has required closure of all transient lodging facilities including but not limited to, motels, hotel, short-term vacation rentals, bed and breakfasts, RV parks, and campgrounds with limited exceptions. Read the Board of Commissioners Statement. Update – Tillamook County lifted its restrictions on lodging operations May 29th. There are guidelines in place for lodging operators to follow; view here.
- Wallowa County previously requested voluntary closure of all motels, B&Bs and other overnight lodging and discouraging visitors from outside the county.
- The City of Astoria has required closure of all hotels, short-term rentals and homestay lodging within the city limits with limited exceptions. Update – These restrictions are now lifted.
- The City of Bandon is restricting rental of all lodging facilities with limited exceptions. Update – Bandon has lifted these restrictions.
- The City of Bend has asked for voluntary compliance with discouraging visitors from outside the community and asks all lodging facilities to only allow travel for essential purposes. The order is in effect until October 26, 2020.
- The City of Brookings is restricting rental of all lodging facilities with limited exceptions. Update – Brookings lifted its restrictions May 8th, but still does not encourage leisure travel at this time.
- The City of Cannon Beach has implemented an Evacuating Visitors Resolution. Update – The City of Cannon Beach has rescinded the Evacuating Visitors Resolution. It lifted restrictions on lodging properties as of May 26th, 2020.
- The City of Coos Bay is restricting rental of all lodging facilities with limited exceptions. Update – Coos Bay has let these restrictions expire.
- The City of Gold Beach is requiring the closure of all lodging facilities within the city limits. Update – Gold Beach lifted its restrictions as of May 8th, but still does not encourage leisure travel at this time.
- The City of Hood River is requiring the closure of all transient lodging facilities to leisure travel. Update – Hood River lifted its restrictions as of May 29th, 2020.
- The City of Manzanita has required that all hotels within the city limits close with limited exceptions. Update – The City of Manzanita liftied its restrictions on lodging operations as of May 29th. There are guidelines in place for lodging operators to follow; view here.
- The City of Port Orford has restricted transient lodging with limited exceptions. Update – Port Orford has lifted these restrictions.
- The City of Seaside has lifted its restrictions on lodging facilities as of May 26th.
- The Sunriver Owners Association is advising Sunriver rental agencies and those who rent their homes as short-term rentals to refrain from renting them. Update – The order from Sunriver Owners Association has now expired.
- The City of Warrenton has required that all hotels within the city limits close with limited exceptions. Update – These restrictions are now lifted.
May I still list my lodging property on OTAs if I’m in one of the restricted areas? How can I make sure essential workers can find me?
- It depends on your local ordinance. If you are still able to provide lodging for essential workers, one idea may be to include the language of who you are allowed to provide lodging for during this time in the description of your OTA profile. This will let the public know you are not generally open for leisure-related travel, but can still make you visible to essential workers looking to find you.
How can we distinguish non-essential travel from essential travel? Is there a best practice to follow?
- In response to several requests from our lodging members, ORLA has drafted a statement for lodging properties to use at check-in that informs guests of the government body's position on leisure travel. This statement is available for your use to read to guests at time of check-in and have them sign in acknowledgement of the information shared. Download the draft statement; this statement can also be repurposed for any local ordinances.
What should considerations be as we look to fully reopen our lodging properties?
- The CDC has recommended practices for hotels, resorts, and lodges here.
- The American Hotel & Lodging Association has launched “Safe Stay” – an initiative for enhanced industry-wide cleaning standards. As a piece of the Safe Stay program, AHLA has released COVID-19 Precautions for Hotels, an online, mobile friendly training targeted to all levels of employees. Offered in English and Spanish, a certificate of completion is awarded and the credential can be printed and shared as a record of training and indicator of an employee’s understanding of the material. The cost is $5/individual or on a discounted tiered scale for corporate license.
- The American Hotel & Lodging Association, in partnership with Cozen O’Connor, has developed Reopening Guidelines for AHLA Members, covering a variety of subjects like OSHA concerns and social distancing practices.
- Oregon Health Authority has released a guide on cleaning hotel rooms after a potentially COVID-19 positive guest has stayed in them.
Is there a specific period of time required to hold a room vacant between guests?
- There is no specific guidance from the state or the Oregon Health Authority restricting how long a room should be left vacant between guests. AHLA's Safe Stay has a 15 minute cleaning hold before entering the room that was added at the suggestion of the CDC. The 24 hours is recommended by the CDC and Oregon Health Authority for known or suspected COVID-19 positive individuals. If operators are able to/desire to, the 24 hours is the most stringent route, but at minimum, 15 minutes is the recommended time to wait to let air circulate before entering the room.
Where can I share information on how the coronavirus is impacting my business and what can I do to advocate for the lodging industry as we look toward recovery?
- At this time, we encourage you to reach out to your state representatives and share with them the challenges you are facing. Visit our Federal Action page for the latest alerts.