Category Archives: COVID – 19 Updates

Urgent Ask – Make Small Business Whole Again from COVID-19- Pass Needed Funding & Protections

Legislative funding ask
Legislative funding ask

The Senate and House of Representatives

Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senators Wyden and Merkley and Representative Suzanne Bonamici:

At a time when many small businesses are still struggling to regroup from measures taken during the COVID-19 shutdowns and restrictions, several provisions of the CARES Act are coming to an end with no additional funding in sight.

The Tigard Chamber of Commerce is a member of the Save Small Business Coalition and we are supporting their fight to keep small businesses alive. We ask that Congress: 

Provide Business Liability Protection:

  • Protect business owners who follow applicable federal, state, or local government guidelines from COVID-19 related exposure liability.
  • Protect businesses from liability claims arising from COVID-19 medical care for healthcare workers and facilities.

Include Workforce Development:

  • Provide $1.3 billion to assist job seekers in accessing employment, education, training, and support services through a combination of new and existing programs.

 Assist with State and Local Aid:

  • Assist state and local governments experiencing one-time COVID-related expenses and revenue shortfalls based on a fixed share of actual costs and revenue shortfalls within an overall funding cap.

Extend and Enhance the Paycheck Protection Program:

  • Broaden the definition of forgivable expenses to include costs associated with protecting employees and customers and expand the period during which expenses qualify for loan forgiveness.
  • Simplify good-faith certification for the forgiveness of loans under $150,000.
  • Expand eligible borrowers to include all non-profits, including 501(c)(6) organizations with no more than 300 employees, as long as PPP funds are not used for lobbying.
  • Authorize a second round of loans for small businesses experiencing revenue reductions of 35% or higher.

The Tigard Chamber and our business community is counting on you to make small businesses whole again.

Sincerely,

Debi Mollahan

CEO, Tigard Chamber

Governor Brown Approved $20 Million more to Oregon’s Emergency Business Assistance Grant Fund

Funding

The Oregon legislature and Governor Brown approved $20 million more to Business Oregon’s Emergency Business Assistance Grant Fund. The application for this new round of funds will be available beginning this Thursday on Business Oregon’s website. Applications will be reviewed on a first-come first-served basis.
 
The grants are available to small businesses that have seen lost revenue due to the pandemic, and that meet a minimal set of requirements.
 
Businesses are eligible to receive up to $200,000 in grant funding as detailed in the grant application. To be eligible, a business must show it was prohibited from operations by the Governor’s Executive Order 20-12, or demonstrate a 25% reduction in sales over a 30-day period in 2020 compared to a comparable period in 2019.
 
This Thursday, the application form and additional details will be found on Business Oregon’s website in multiple languages. Grants will be reviewed on a first-come first-served basis, and will be allocated so that there is an equitable geographic distribution of funds as dictated by the Oregon Legislature. 
Visit Business Oregon’s website here for more information.

Governor 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.
 
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. 
 
Read full press release here.

Business Alert – Governor Brown Orders 2 Week Freeze for Oregon Starting Nov 18th.

 12:04 PM PST November 13, 2020

PORTLAND, Ore. — Gov. Kate Brown announced on Friday a two-week “freeze” for the entire state of Oregon that’ll begin on Nov. 18. The purpose of the new restrictions is to limit group activities that are contributing to the rapid spread of COVID-19 throughout the state.

Restaurants and bars will be limited to take-out only, and recreational facilities and venues that host indoor or outdoor events will be closed.

The freeze will last through Dec. 2. Here is the list of new restrictions the governor’s office released:

  • Limiting social get-togethers (indoors and outdoors) to no more than six people, total, from no more than two households.
  • Limiting faith based organizations to a maximum of 25 people indoors or 50 people outdoors.
  • Limiting restaurants and bars to take-out only.
  • Closing gyms and fitness organizations.
  • Closing indoor recreational facilities, museums, indoor entertainment activities, and indoor pools and sports courts.
  • Closing outdoor recreational facilities, zoos, gardens, aquariums, outdoor entertainment activities, and outdoor pools.
  • Limiting grocery stores and pharmacies to a maximum of 75% capacity and encouraging curbside pick-up.
  • Limiting retail stores and retail malls (indoor and outdoor) to a maximum of 75% capacity and encouraging curbside pick-up.
  • Closing venues (that host or facilitate indoor or outdoor events).
  • Requiring all businesses to mandate work-from-home to the greatest extent possible and closing offices to the public.
  • Prohibiting indoor visiting in long-term care facilities.

Your can listen to the complete video broadcast from Governor Brown and public health officials at this link, Governor’s 2 Week Freeze Announcement

 

OR-OSHA’s New COVID-19 Standard – Feedback Needed!

OR OSHAs New COVID 19 Standard

The COVID-19 pandemic and associated closures have devastated businesses across Oregon. And now, OR-OSHA is moving forward with a new COVID-19 Standard that is intended to protect employees during the pandemic. Unfortunately, as drafted these rules will actually harm Oregon businesses and create a significant cost burden! OR-OSHA has committed to finalizing the rules by September 21st and needs to hear from impacted employers like, Tigard Chamber of Commerce TODAY before these rules are finalized.
 
A full summary of the draft rules can be found HERE. Key issues include:

  • New sanitization requirements that mandate the cleaning of all high-touch surfaces and shared equipment each time before use by another employee or customer. It’s totally unreasonable to demand that a workplace sanitize every door handle and restroom stall between each individual use!
     
  • A 3-foot social distancing requirement for all employer-provided transportation.
     
  • A new 80+ hour paid leave mandate requiring ALL EMPLOYERS to provide paid leave (and benefits) whenever an employee is exposed to the COVID-19 virus, regardless of whether the exposure occurred at work or at a party or in their private residence. Note that this will be enforceable by BOLI, OR-OSHA and through a Private Right of Action against the employer!

Enough is enough! In June 2020, the Oregon legislature actually declined to move forward with this flawed concept, removing it from the omnibus COVID-19 policy package during the First Special Session. Now OR-OSHA is advancing this new mandate DESPITE clear legislative intent. The agency needs to hear from impacted stakeholders today before they finalize the temporary COVID-19 Standard.

You can make your voice heard, through the easy to use tool Voter Voice at this link.  There is draft letter already crafted which you can use and simply fill in your contact info so it goes to your legislative representatives as well as OR-OSHA.

Take a few minutes and help your business and other businesses!  Feel free to also share this email broadly.

See the Tigard Chamber’s letter to OR-OSHA and legislative reps here.

Letter to OR-OSHA and Legislature on Draft OR-OSHA COVID 19 Workplace Rules

tigard chamber logo blue

September 3, 2020

Dear Administrator Michael Wood, Senators Burdick & Thatcher  and Representatives Doherty and Neron,

Thank you for the opportunity to provide feedback on OR-OSHA’s Draft COVID-19 Standard.

The Tigard Chamber of Commerce represents close to 300 member businesses providing over 15,000 jobs who are committed to growing business opportunities and providing living-wage jobs for families in our community.  We are writing today to express our concerns about OR-OSHA’s Draft COVID-19 Standard.

Oregon employers have been saddled with an incredible burden. Many businesses faced closures in 2020 or saw operations significantly curtailed in order to slow the spread of the virus. Employers also have been tasked with complying with Governor’s Orders and ever-evolving guidelines for businesses from the Oregon Health Authority. We’ve worked hard to comply because we wanted to protect our customers and employees, but each of these regulations comes at a cost, and some businesses weren’t able to weather the economic storm created by this.

Now, OR-OSHA is moving forward with costly new workplace standards and a new paid leave mandate that will apply to all public and private employers. We are all trying to do our best, but some of the proposals put forward by OR-OSHA are concerning. Please make the following changes to your temporary COVID-19 Standard before you finalize to make it workable.

First, OR-OSHA must remove the requirement that employers sanitize all high-touch surfaces and shared equipment between every use. That mandate alone will require all employers to hire or repurpose employees to just follow other employees around and clean surfaces after one touch. It also will require significant investment in sanitation supplies above and beyond what we have currently purchased. OR-OSHA must be reasonable; this is clearly not.

Second, I’m concerned that OR-OSHA is creating standards that conflict with existing public health guidelines. Local businesses already have spent a lot of money to create a safe work space for their employees and customers. OR-OSHA’s mask requirements should align with the Governor’s requirements and exceptions for facial coverings. Please also simplify language related to social distancing; there should be one clear standard. It’ll be tough for small businesses to navigate these rules; they are regulatory relief right now, not additional administrative hurdles.

Third, OR-OSHA must eliminate the new paid leave mandate that is called “Medical Removal.” The agency doesn’t have the authority to expand an existing Fed-OSHA program that is used in the rare instances of workplace chemical exposure in order to create a new 2-week paid leave benefit for all employees during COVID-19. And employees who were exposed to COVID-19 outside of work will receive this benefit (paid for by employers), regardless of whether they complied with the Governor’s Orders! This is unfair to employers who are trying to do the right thing and will harm local businesses who are already struggling. It also ignores significant federal and state benefits that have been authorized to support employees who need to quarantine. Businesses are closing their doors every day; please don’t make Oregon an impossible place for local businesses to operate.

Finally, we ask the agency to give businesses a minimum of 90-days before enforcement kicks in. Employers will face OR-OSHA penalties immediately and could face BOLI penalties and costly lawsuits if OR-OSHA pursues the ill-advised paid leave mandate. Please give employers time to figure out how to interpret and comply with these rules before starting enforcement.

We are all doing our best. Please do not add a costly burden to employers at a time when small businesses can least afford it.

Thank you for listening to our concerns.

Sincerely,

Debi Mollahan

CEO, Tigard Chamber