Business organizations oppose Brown's new COVID-19 restrictions
A coalition of 38 Oregon business associations strongly opposes Gov. Kate Brown's two-week "freeze" to slow the spread of COVID-19 — which is extended to four weeks in Multnomah County and possibly the rest of the Portland area.
Brown announced new restrictions on business operations and social gatherings at a noon news conference with health officials Friday, Nov. 13. Shortly before the event, the Coronavirus Recovery Business Coalition released a letter it sent Brown urging her not to shut down the economy again. It included a a five-point Action Plan to Immediately Slow the Spread of COVID-19 that did not include new business restrictions. Brown did not comply with the request and advice.
"We share the governor's alarm, but we need to address the root cause of the spread. We know it is social gatherings, and closing businesses that don't contribute to that makes no sense. Closing businesses should be a last resort," Oregon Business & Industry President and CEO Sandra McDonough said after the news conference.
The coalition also includes the Portland Business Alliance, the Oregon Beer and Wine Distributors Association, and many other business groups. In its letter, the coalition said: "We implore you, Governor, if you are considering additional restrictions or actual closures, please take a pause. Let us work with you to develop a better plan. Arbitrarily closing businesses and reacting to this crisis without a plan that addresses the root of the problem will certainly harm Oregonians across our state without ensuring any real results."
"When the first shutdown happened last March, we had the promise of federal unemployment support and small business assistance," McDonough said in an accompanying statement. "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 emphasized the steps that Oregon's businesses have taken to implement strict safety standards in all workplaces throughout the state, including upcoming compliance with a new Oregon Health and Safety Administration COVID-19 Temporary Rule, which goes into effect 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 letter said.
And the letter outlined a a five-point plan to slow the spread of COVID-19 that includes convening a task force to address social and community spread, a public education campaign, greatly expanded COVID-19 rapid testing and contract tracing, reconfiguring the existing economic advisory panel, and early establishment of a comprehensive vaccine distribution plan.
Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury and Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler both supported Brown's new restrictions, calling them necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19.
"Four weeks of full community cooperation is our best chance to turn this tide and ultimately save lives, protect our hospital capacity and support our essential workers. With surges also occurring in neighboring states and across the country, there will be no outside help. We must take aggressive action now to save lives among our local residents," Kafoury said.
"Many Portlanders have made major sacrifices during this pandemic. This freeze, while challenging, will help ensure fewer sacrifices down the road and a strong recovery. And, most importantly, this freeze will save lives," Wheeler said.
You can read the letter from the coalition and the news release announcing it here.
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