ORLA seeks data, evidence for ongoing industry shutdown
Data assessment shows a lack of correlation between economic sanctions and virus mitigation
Wilsonville, OR– Oregon’s restaurant and lodging industries continue to suffer greatly according to the latest data made available by the Oregon Employment Department. Leisure and hospitality businesses lost 25,500 jobs in December. An announcement today from the Governor’s office is welcome news for lottery retailers, restaurant operators with functional outdoor dining space, and Oregon’s lodging industry eager to bring amenities including indoor pools and hot tubs back online for their guests. Still, thousands of restaurant operators are not assisted by these helpful modifications if they are not lottery retailers and lack available space for outdoor dining options.
“Oregonians in our industry can’t pay their monthly bills with two weeks of employment certainty at a time,” said Jason Brandt, President & CEO for the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association. “The reality of the 2-week county risk category assessments is taking us down a dangerous path where tens of thousands of Oregonians no longer have paychecks again. The lack of continuity in operations is permanently altering too many Oregonian livelihoods. We must open some indoor dining statewide now, and we can do it safely.”
Oregon’s aggressive economic restrictions on one of the state’s largest private sector employers continues to lack data to substantiate the disproportionate sacrifices being endured by these small business operators. According to weekly reports by the Oregon Health Authority and a declaration from Dr. Dean Sidelinger in federal district court, Oregon’s foodservice industry accounts for less than 1 percent of all workplace outbreaks and 4.7 percent of Oregon’s overall outbreaks, respectively. Yet, Oregon’s foodservice operations continue to be shut down in the vast majority of the state.
“It doesn’t make sense to me how I can have all this space to safely spread out my customers in my restaurant and have the government continue to tell me I can’t use it when I know I can do it safely,” said Treva Gambs, owner of Gamberetti’s Italian Restaurants in Salem and Albany. “The discrimination we are facing is keeping me from taking care of my employees and my customers in ways that can really help our communities get through an emotional and depressing time.”
A recent analysis of December data on the status of restaurant closures across states with mask mandates shows no correlation between the number of cases and deaths and the decisions to close indoor dining. The chart below illustrates the lack of connectivity. In addition, the year 2020 included multiple press conferences highlighting the lack of data to close foodservice operations across Oregon. Governor Brown and Dr. Dean Sidelinger shared comments in press conferences on multiple occasions acknowledging the lack of connectivity to the hospitality industry during periods of the year where hospitality businesses remained open and case counts remained low.
“ORLA will continue our call for a reconvened Economic Advisory Council to solve a chronic problem we currently face – there is no formal dialogue taking place between government officials, health advisors, and industry leaders to fully understand the devastating impacts prolonged restrictions are having on all aspects of Oregon’s once thriving hospitality industry,” said Brandt. “The data above should bring us all to ask one important central question – what evidence is there to justify the crippling impacts of ongoing closures on Oregonians?”
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. According to the Oregon Employment Department’s December data, over 50,000 Oregonians that once had a job in hospitality do not have work available to return to