We must support our small businesses and their workers! I especially support recommendations (link to them in text below) that no residential evictions allowed due to COVID19-related unemployment, or commercial evictions for businesses that have been ordered closed for duration of state emergency declaration. And, quick unemployment funds for workers whose place of employment is closed due to pandemic. Also, if a small business is deeply impacted by COVID19, allow delay or suspension of selected local and state business fees and taxes.
Most Portlanders work for small businesses. I believe we need to take extraordinary measures to help owners and workers.
From a group of independent restaurant owners and bar owners: my summary below of their smart, thoughtful and wholistic approach! Link to full letter.
From the group’s letter: “We fear that by remaining open even in limited capacity, we are amplifying the COVID-19 crisis, not doing our part to flatten the curve or care for the community we so passionately serve. Yet we cannot close our businesses without your support.
We respectfully request that:
1. Require all restaurants and bars cease operations immediately.
2. Ensure that all workers receive Unemployment Insurance benefits for the duration of the pandemic response; that the waiting week and requirement to look for work is also suspended. Additionally we request that an emergency rule for Unemployment Insurance is issued for the duration of the pandemic response that will provide coverage if a worker is:
Mildly ill with COVID-19
Exposed to COVID-19 and quarantined no matter the status of business operations
Immune compromised and advised to self-quarantine
Without work because their employer must shut down due to a public officials order or a business slow down or lack of demand
Guarantee that individuals who are unable to work due to having or being exposed to COVID-19 can file an expedited Disability Insurance claim
3. Place a moratorium on residential evictions after March 13, 2020.
4. Provide employers with a 60-day extension of time to file their state payroll reports and/or deposit state payroll taxes without penalty or interest.
5. Suspend payroll tax and required retirement account contributions.
6. Create a grant program providing funds for businesses with fewer than 125 employees who have seen sales decreases of 25 percent or more in order to help mitigate losses in profit.
7. Create a grant program for companies with fewer than 100 employees to provide financial assistance specifically to meet the needs of employer-sponsored health care coverage for employees.
8. Provide commercial rent relief. Mandate that no commercial rent, lease payments, or contract payments be required during the duration of the administrative closure.
9. Place a moratorium on commercial evictions after March 15, 2020 for the duration of the administrative action.
10. Defer all city and state Business Taxes for Small Businesses. For businesses with up to $7M in gross receipts, defer payment of quarterly business taxes due April 30, 2020, nine months to February 2021 with no interest or penalties.
11. Defer all city and state Business Licensing Fees for three months.
12. Establish a task force to convene large banks, financial associations, utilities, telecoms, and major employers to identify opportunities to provide relief such as debt and late penalty forgiveness, deferring bills, providing no-interest loans and waiving fees for companies and workers negatively impacted by COVID-19
13. Work with federal lawmakers to significantly increase funding for public health and economic development, while facilitating rules and regulations that could provide relief to businesses and workers impacted by COVID-19.
As small business owners, we are already carrying a significant debt burden. In order to continue operationally after this crisis we need immediate assistance and action from the State of Oregon, the Federal Government, and insurance carriers. The proposals of loan programs we’ve seen thus far administered by the SBA will simply not suffice. We need creative, immediate action to infuse financial resources into our community.
We ask that you take action now. Our industry and our state have overcome adversity before; armed with the right tools, we can do it again.”
Governor Kate Brown orders restaurants, bars shut down to all but takeout and delivery service to prevent spread of coronavirus.
Many restaurants are staying open to do takeout. You can find a list of establishments to visit at https://pdx2go.com/.
Help support these small businesses by placing to-go orders or purchasing gift cards to use when they can resume their usual services.