Oregon businesses urge governor to consider alternatives to business closures to slow spread of COVID-19

Oregon businesses urge governor to consider alternatives to business closures to slow spread of COVID-19

The Coronavirus Recovery Business Coalition, a large and diverse alliance of businesses and business associations, sent this letter to Governor Brown, urging her to pause on any future business closures or curtailed operations and instead engage in a series of actions the state can take to slow the spread of the virus.

The letter includes a five-point action plan that the coaltion urges the Governor to implement immediately to help Oregonians understand how to protect themselves, their families and their friends from COVID-19. That action plan includes implementing a COVID-19 public information campaign, increasing rapid testing and contact tracing, convening a task force to address social and community spread, establishing an advisory panel to address COVID needs and establishing a comprehensive vaccine distribution plan.

“Like many Oregonians, we are also concerned about the significant uptick in positive COVID-19 cases of the past few weeks,” said Sandra McDonough, president and CEO of Oregon Buisness & Industry. “We are committed to engaging and working with the governor to implement the actions that need to be taken to slow the spread of this dangerous virus, while safely keeping open the doors of the businesses that feed our families, support our communities and keep our economy afloat.

“When the first shut-down happened last March, we had the promise of federal unemployment support and small business assistance,” McDonough continued. “That is not the case today. Business closures now mean families across Oregon will lose their incomes right as the holiday season commences, and businesses that rely on holiday sales will face a grim future. We know the governor understands this and we want to work with her to prevent it.”

The letter also emphasizes the steps that Oregon’s businesses have taken to implement strict safety standards in all workplaces throughout the state, punctuated by the new Oregon OSHA COVID-19 Temporary Rule, which goes into effect on Monday, Nov. 16. Following the implementation of this new rule, Oregon will lead the nation with its new compliance-driven regulatory approach that includes serious penalties.

The coaltion also emphasizes that their research shows that the industry sectors that were closed during the pandemic account for less than one-half of one percent of total COVID-19 cases and that shutting them down, especially when the state has continually reiterated that cases are spreading through private social gatherings, will not curb the spread of COVID-19.

“Businesses throughout Oregon have proven that they can make the operational changes necessary to keep their employees and their customers safe, even during this unprecedented pandemic. What we need now is a plan to address the root of the problem without causing additional harm to Oregonians throughout the state,” said Jason Brandt, president and CEO of the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association.