FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 19, 2022
Jason Brandt, President & CEO, ORLA
503.302.5060 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Local Restaurants and Their Workers Need Relief Now
The Omicron Variant is Wreaking Havoc on both Restaurant and Lodging Operations
Wilsonville, OR– The highly transmissible Omicron variant is bringing a new wave of outcry from local restaurants demanding action on the depleted Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) as well as a reinstatement of employee retention tax credits (ERTC) for the fourth quarter of 2021. ERTC was taken away from small businesses as part of the compromise to pass the nation’s infrastructure investment package last year. In addition, working families are yet again missing opportunities to earn a paycheck due to necessary isolation and quarantine guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“It seems we have reached a point where virtually everyone knows someone personally who has had Covid and national health experts are now telling us most people should expect to contract the disease,” said Jason Brandt, President & CEO for the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association. “Based on current isolation and quarantine protocols, there are 3 things hospitality operators must get addressed as soon as possible – replenishment of the restaurant revitalization fund, reinstatement of the employee retention tax credit for quarter 4 of calendar year 2021, and solutions for workers who cannot show up to work due to having Covid or being exposed to someone with Covid.”
The RRF was a promising tool propping up over a hundred thousand restaurants and bars across the country including 2,337 local operations here in Oregon. The United States Small Business Administration (SBA) successfully doled out $28.6 billion in funding – but 177,000 eligible applications remain unfunded in the SBA portal – 2,536 of which are here in Oregon.
ERTC has been a godsend to hospitality businesses. The credits are claimed within quarterly tax returns for all of 2020 and the first three quarters of 2021. Although delays remain in place, hospitality operators who have gone through the process of amending their quarterly payroll tax returns to claim their tax credits have seen cash back amounts surpassing $100,000. Many operators are eagerly awaiting those funds as operations remain sidelined by omicron and the slower winter season. Reinstating ERTC for Quarter 4 of 2021 would add back $7,000 per qualified employee for struggling hospitality businesses across the state.
Temporary assistance for employees is also a concern for cash strapped hospitality employers who don’t have the luxury of paying employees outside of Oregon’s already established paid sick time law. Finding solutions for short term wage replacement in the case of isolation and quarantine rules specifically would help thousands of Oregon workers. ORLA is in direct contact with the Acting Director of the Oregon Employment Department in hopes of uncovering temporary benefits and additional assistance for these impacted workers.
“Everyone is tired of Covid, and our hope is these 3 efforts will be enough to help hospitality businesses and their employees weather the Omicron storm and get back on track later in 2022. For some, it’s already too late,” said Brandt. “We need RRF replenishment, ERTC reinstatement, and a tool for worker wage replacement to have the backs of our hospitality employees who we’re asking to stay home and not show up for work.”
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 provides over 150,000 paychecks to working Oregonians. Currently ORLA has over 2,800 members across the state.