'We are at a breaking point,' she warns; OSP, law enforcement issue statement; Freedom Foundation 'appalled'; restaurants-bars seek relief
SALEM, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Gov. Kate Brown on Tuesday issued Executive Order 20-65 following last week's announcement of a statewide freeze to stop the rapid community spread of COVID-19 in Oregon, also announcing $55 million in aid being distributed to help hard-hit businesses.
In light of increasing COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, the order outlines necessary risk reduction measures designed to limit gatherings and curb human contact, the governor's office said in a news release
"I know Oregonians have made tremendous sacrifices throughout this pandemic and that these new, temporary restrictions may seem daunting," Brown said. "But we are at a breaking point. If we don't take further action, we risk continued alarming spikes in infections and hospitalizations, and we risk the lives of our neighbors and loved ones.
"I also know that Oregonians come together in times of need, and we owe it to each other to take these measures seriously. It is up to all of us to work together to get this virus under control."
Executive Order 20-65 addresses the following in detail:
- Limiting at-home and social gatherings, as well as faith institutions
- Limiting the maximum capacity for grocery stores, pharmacies, and retail stores
- Restricting food and drink establishments to take-out only
- Requiring workplaces to mandate work-from-home as much as possible
- Closing certain businesses, including gyms, museums, zoos, and indoor recreation facilities
As with the governor's previous executive orders related to COVID-19, all of the freeze measures are enforceable by law upon both individuals and businesses. However, the governor is urging voluntary compliance.
These measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 are a necessity to give Oregon a fighting chance to flatten the curve and save lives, the governor's office said.
Brown added, "I expect local law enforcement to continue to use an education-first approach, but Oregonians need to understand that these rules are enforceable under law.
"A large majority of Oregonians continue to do the right thing to protect themselves, their loved ones, and their neighbors. However, when Oregonians don’t take COVID-19 seriously, and don’t take steps to reduce the spread of the disease, they put all of us at risk.
"We need all Oregonians to use common sense, make smart choices, and take seriously their individual responsibilities during a public health emergency."
The full text of Executive Order 20-65 is available here.
Sector specific guidance is forthcoming and will be posted to the Governor's coronavirus webpage as it is available.
Brown also announced that the state will commit $55 million in financial assistance to support Oregon businesses who have been impacted by COVID-19 restrictions.
These funds will be allocated to counties to distribute to businesses who have been financially impacted, with a priority for the hospitality industry, businesses impacted by the freeze, small businesses, and women, Black, Indigenous, People of Color, and Tribal-owned businesses.
“Our iconic main street businesses have sacrificed too much already in this pandemic,” Brown said. “While we have invested over $100 million in Oregon businesses so far, we must find additional resources to deploy quickly to help businesses that are suffering, particularly our small businesses and those owned by Black, Indigenous, Latino, Latina, Latinx, Asian, Pacific Islander, Native American, and Tribal members.
"'I know that this is not enough. I remain committed to fighting for additional resources at the federal level, including a reauthorization of the important features of the CARES Act, like the Payroll Protection Program and an extension of unemployment insurance benefits.”
The $55 million in Coronavirus Relief Funds will be allocated to counties, with each county receiving a base of $500,000 plus a per capita allocation of the remainder of the funds. The counties will be responsible for deciding how businesses apply to receive funds and communicating the application process to businesses.
The Governor’s Office anticipates that funds will be distributed to counties within the next several weeks. Businesses who are interested in applying should contact their county for more information.
The Oregon State Sheriffs’ Association, the Oregon Association of Chiefs of Police and the Oregon State Police encourage all Oregonians to comply with the Governor’s Executive Order during the two-week Coronavirus freeze.
Oregonians have a strong tradition of unifying to protect the most vulnerable members of our communities. As your fellow community members, please join us in adhering to the Governor’s Executive Order during the two-week Coronavirus freeze. As your Oregon Law Enforcement professionals, our primary objective throughout the Coronavirus pandemic has been to take an education first approach and to seek voluntary compliance with each Executive Order. We recognize the inconvenience the pandemic and subsequent restrictions have caused all of us. We also know that the risk to our most vulnerable populations is extremely high at this time and we urge everyone to follow these restrictions in order to protect them. After all, we are all in this together.
With the issuance of the latest Executive Order, Oregon Law enforcement will continue to follow an education first approach. Oregon Law Enforcement will only take enforcement action (criminal citations) as a last resort. As with most enforcement decision making, discretion will be used if/when any Executive Order enforcement action is taken. Oregon Law Enforcement recognizes that we cannot arrest or enforce our way out of the pandemic. We can, however, work together in following these restrictions to make our communities a safer and healthy place.
We include the following recommendations when it comes to reporting Executive Order violations.
- Business/workplace violations-Please report these to Oregon OSHA.
- Restaurant/Bars-Please report these violations to OSHA or OLCC.
Oregon Law Enforcement is faced with many challenges, one of which is typically receiving more police calls for service than available resources to respond. Because of this, we ask the public to follow the above-mentioned recommendations for reporting alleged violations of the Executive Order.
Freedom Foundation response to newer, tougher COVID restrictions in Oregon:
“The Freedom Foundation was appalled to learn about Gov. Kate Brown’s new shutdown mandates in Oregon. The prospect of families being forced to spend Thanksgivings apart due to a government mandate is unimaginable in the United States. And threatening to throw people in jail for simply spending time with their families while at the same time freeing hundreds of prisoners is sick. Then again, so is much of what passes for leadership in this state.”
“Gov. Brown and the rest of Oregon’s public employees have never missed a paycheck because of lockdowns. The worst they’ve had to contend with is being allowed to work from home. Meanwhile, thousands of small businesses and their employees have taken a severe hit to their finances and freedoms. This disconnect is unconscionable.”
“The Freedom Foundation will continue to fight Gov. Brown’s unlawful lockdown orders. In her mind, this has never been about health and safety. All she cares about is power, and she’s not above fearmongering to obtain more of it.”
By Jason Dudash
Oregon Director of the Freedom Foundation
Restaurants, Bars Seek Immediate Financial Relief from Legislature
Creation of a $75 Million Hospitality Relief Fund is Needed for Industry to Survive
Wilsonville, OR– Another shutdown of Oregon’s restaurants, bars and foodservice establishments is crippling an already broken and damaged industry. While other industries in Oregon have experienced revenue losses on average of five percent from last year, the hospitality industry in Oregon has experienced revenue losses on average of at least thirty percent.
Because of this massive economic disparity, the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association (ORLA), the leading business association for the foodservice and lodging industry in Oregon, has sent a letter to the Legislative Joint Emergency Board asking for the immediate creation of a $75 million Hospitality Relief Fund to help operators and their employees survive another shutdown.
“There is no federal relief package waiting to be voted on and distributed from Congress or the White House,” said Jason Brandt, President & CEO for the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association. “There are no stimulus checks being printed to help Oregon families pay their bills. There is no weekly check for $600 available for those servers, cooks, hosts and hostesses about to lose their jobs or have their hours cut again because restaurants can’t survive on takeout and delivery if they can do it at all.”
Restaurants and bars are still paying rent and there has been no extension of the commercial rent moratorium even though revenue has been cut by as much as 65% for some operators because of the shutdowns, “pause” and now a “freeze.”
Restaurants and bars are still paying OLCC license fees even though they are not able to serve hard alcohol or offer cocktails to go for customers doing pickup or delivery. They are still paying health inspection fees based on the number of seats they have in their establishment even though they cannot seat anyone in their establishment. There are payroll taxes, corporate activity taxes, property taxes on property they cannot fully use and commercial personal property taxes on property restaurants own.
In addition to the immediate creation of the $75 million Hospitality Relief Fund, ORLA is recommending several other solutions to the Legislature to help the hospitality industry survive. Those solutions include:
- Passage of an already drafted Legislative Concept (LC 833) allowing for “To-Go Cocktails” from bars and restaurants
- Waiving or significantly discounting fees including but not limited to business licenses, corporate filing, health inspection fees and OLCC on-premises license fees to make up for the fact the businesses are not able to fully operate
- Extension of the Commercial Eviction Moratorium
“We were already hearing from members they were concerned about what another shutdown would do to their chances of staying open,” said Brandt. “Without significant help from the state, the hospitality industry in Oregon–many of your favorite restaurants, hotels, bars and other places– will have to permanently close their doors, putting tens of thousands of people out of work.”
“Hospitality businesses need immediate help. We cannot wait for February and hope a relief package will materialize and be approved at the federal level,” said Brandt. “This is an emergency and we need the Joint Emergency Board to take action now to save our industry and the tens of thousands of Oregonians who rely on it to put food on the table, pay their rent or mortgage and provide for their families’ needs.”