The last 3 months have challenged Oregon's local businesses. No one could have prepared for the COVID-19 crisis or the economic disaster that followed statewide public health orders. And today, many businesses-child care providers, restaurants, retailers, salon owners, and more-are grappling with whether it is even possible to reopen their doors following this crisis.
For many businesses navigating this uncertainty, there is an even greater fear lurking around the corner: costly and opportunistic COVID-19 lawsuits.
As businesses start to reopen, they are implementing safety measures in alignment with State public health guidelines and recommendations. Many employers are worried that even though they are following public health guidelines, an employee or customer will contract coronavirus and sue them, claiming that they got sick because of circumstances beyond the control of the business. Our local businesses shouldn't live in fear of opportunistic attorneys and crippling litigation during these uncertain times.
Businesses need to know that if they take steps to implement guidance from state and federal public health officials, they will be protected from excessive lawsuits that will drain their cash reserves. One lawsuit or demand letter can cripple a business, regardless of the steps taken to protect employee and customer health under state-issued public health guidance.
Oregon lawmakers must act now to protect local businesses from litigation abuse! Plaintiffs' attorneys and lawsuit lending companies are preparing for an onslaught of coronavirus suits. Temporary and targeted liability protections are necessary to allow businesses to reopen safely and with the confidence that they aren't reopening simply to risk everything.
Temporary and targeted liability protections are not a partisan issue. States with democrat and republican governors have signed legislation to prevent excessive litigation from burying employers who have acted in good faith and in accordance with state and federal guidelines in this crisis. The time for Oregon to act is now!
Are you worried about coronavirus liability-despite the fact that your business has done its best to adhere to Governor Brown's public health guidelines? If so, the Governor and legislators need to hear from you today! Tell your story to help inform this important policy decision.
Send your message to the Governor
and legislators today
Download the template letter to send from your Chamber
COVID-19 Reopening Listening Sessions with Prosper Portland
The City of Portland and Prosper Portland, in partnership with Venture Portland and the Portland Independent Restaurant Alliance, are hosting listening sessions to hear from businesses in the restaurant and personal services industries, and how the city can support as we look towards reopening. This is a part of a series of industry and culturally specific listening sessions open to the public. This session is intended for business owners in the restaurant and personal services industries. If these sessions are fully registered, a video will be made available when the session concludes.
Register for the Restaurant Industry Listening Session on 6/1 from 9-10:30am
Register for the Personal Services Industry Listening Session on 6/9 from 12-1:30pm
Retailers! Do you have questions about the reopening your store during COVID-19? Trying to figure out how you should set up your store? Unsure of how to balance personal safety and financial necessity?
Join us Thursday, 5/28 from 1-2pm when our special guests Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury, The Department of Health and retail business owners answer your questions about what’s going on, when it’s happening, what the hold ups are and how to get back to business. Share your questions or concerns with County officials and catch up on how your peers are planning to get back into stores and restoring revenue streams.
Register for the Retailer Q&A on 5/28 from 1-2pm
We are living in unprecedented times. Businesses across the country have been shuttered due to the COVID-19 health crisis in an effort to curb the impact of the virus. As employers begin to look at reopening, many are worried that an employee or customer will contract the disease and sue, claiming that they got sick because the business could have done something more to protect the person, despite following the public health guidelines for reopening. This is already happening.
Employers need assurance that there will be safe harbors in place to protect them from opportunistic lawsuits. Businesses who follow the guidelines issued by public health authorities should be able to safely provide their goods and services without the fear of crippling liability.
There is no playbook for reopening. Business owners are already facing many challenges in this uncertain economic environment. We need timely, targeted and temporary liability protections to shield employers from legal risk when following the appropriate public health guidelines to protect employees and customers.
Please tell Congress that liability protections are needed to shield employers from litigation abuse.
CONTACT CONGRESS TODAY
Reopening Guidance for Phase I
Many counties across Oregon are preparing to enter into Phase I of reopening.
See list of counties who have applied to enter Phase I.
Guidance that applies statewide, immediately:
Guidance that applies statewide starting May 15, 2020:
Guidance that only applies to counties that enter Phase I:
Restaurants & Bars
Forthcoming guidance that will apply statewide:
For more detailed information and industry guidelines, check out this link:
In a press briefing earlier today, Governor Kate Brown announced additional details for the Phase I reopening of Oregon.
The Governor will begin accepting applications for reopening counties on May 8th. Counties must meet certain criteria to reopen, including:
1. Declining COVID-19 prevalence
2. Minimum Testing Regimen
3. Contact Tracing System
4. Isolation Facilities
5. Finalize Statewide Sector Guidelines
6. Sufficient Healthcare Capacity
7. Sufficient PPE Supply
Should counties meet the prerequisites, they can enter into Phase I reopening on May 15th. After 21 days in Phase I, counties continuing to meet the prerequisites may be able to enter Phase II.
Details on Restarting Oregon Public Life and Business
Watch full press conference
PPP loans, EIDL advances, SBA loan subsidies not subject to CAT!
The Oregon Department of Revenue has determined that certain federal assistance to businesses under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act is not commercial activity under Oregon statute and will not be subject to the Corporate Activity Tax.
The exempt assistance includes forgiven Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) advances, and Small Business Administration (SBA) loan subsidies. More information can be found in the Beyond the FAQ section of the CAT page on the department's website.
Bipartisan Legislation Introduced to Allow Chambers to Apply for PPP Loans
Representatives Chris Pappas (D-NH-01), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-01), Gil Cisneros (D-CA-39), and Greg Steube (R-FL-17) introduced bipartisan legislation (H.R. 6697) to ensure local chambers of commerce and other nonprofits who support small businesses-and who are not currently eligible for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)-can receive the federal assistance they need to navigate the devastating economic downturn of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a press release from the bill introducing Members, U.S. Chamber of Commerce executive vice president Neil Bradley was quoted:
"The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is pleased to support the Local Chamber, Tourism, and 501(c)(6) Protection Act. Local chambers of commerce across the country play a vital role in assisting local businesses weathering the economic storm caused by the coronavirus. Including these organizations in the Paycheck Protection Program ensures they can continue with this important work in the weeks and months ahead. We will continue to work with Representatives Pappas, Fitzpatrick, and other members of Congress to include local chambers in this important program."
See the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's coalition letter signed by over 3,700 non-profit organizations urging Congress to make this change.
The Oregon State Chamber of Commerce (OSCC) announced today that the Board of Directors has voted to join the Save Small Business Coalition.
In a meeting held on Monday, May 4th, the Board unanimously voted to join the Coalition. Several local Oregon chambers were founding members of this effort. The Save Small Business Coalition has aligned their efforts with over 100 chambers and business associations nationwide to create America's Recovery Fund Coalition: americasrecoveryfund.org
OSCC encourages chambers to learn more about the Save Small Business Coalition and how they can be part of this effort.
For more information about the Save Small Business Coalition, please contact:
Dear OSCC members and colleagues -
The coronavirus crisis has had a devastating impact on our economy. Small businesses have been applying for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) forgivable loans authorized under the CARES Act, as well as the Small Business Administration (SBA) Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) and Emergency Grants for support during this time. Due to the need for these programs, funds have been quickly exhausted.
We need swift bipartisan action NOW to bolster these programs and help our most vulnerable small businesses survive.
Also, Congress is in the final stages of negotiating additional funding for the CARES Act. Inclusion of all non-profits in the Paycheck Protection Program remains an open issue. Please call your Senators to urge them to include 501(c)(6) non-profits.
Am I ELIGIBLE?
HOW MUCH does the program pay and for how long?
PUA pays the same weekly benefits as your regular state unemployment insurance (UI) program, but the benefits are 100% federally funded. PUA benefits are available for up to 39 weeks.
This program expires on December 31, 2020.
Through July 31, 2020, recipients of unemployment compensation will receive an additional $600 per week on top of the state-calculated benefit.
According to the Department of Labor: “An individual who works as an independent contractor with reportable income also may qualify for PUA benefits if he or she is unemployed, partially employed, or unable or unavailable to work because the COVID-19 public health emergency has severely limited his or her ability to continue performing his or her customary work activities, and has thereby forced the individual to suspend such activities” is eligible.
NOTE: Receipt of a PPP loan may impact your ability to collect unemployment insurance.
Oregon Unemployment Insurance Program
General Information about the Unemployment Insurance Program:
To file a UI claim online:
To apply by phone:
To check the status or get information on your claim:
Coronavirus update: Oregon is providing updates on Unemployment Insurance changes related to COVID-19 here:
SBA ECONOMIC INJURY DISASTER LOANS (EIDL)
HOW DO I APPLY?
Apply for an EIDL loan at SBA.gov/disaster
What are the loan TERMS, CAPS, and PARAMETERS?
How can I access an emergency $10,000 GRANT?
You are eligible to apply for an EIDL loan as an independent contractor or self-employed person. NOTE: As of April 15, 2020, the EIDL program was running out funds, so loans were only being approved up to $15,000, and emergency grants were limited to $1,000 per employee up to $10,000. Congress may replenish funding, in which case this guide will be updated.
Eligible applicants for an EIDL may receive up to a $10,000 emergency grant within three days of submitting their application (through Dec. 31). There is no obligation to repay the grant. Applicants who are denied an EIDL loan are still eligible to receive the $10,000 emergency grant. If you secure a PPP loan, the $10,000 grant will be subtracted from the forgiveness amount NOTE: The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) created by the CARES Act prohibits borrowers from taking out two loans for the same purpose.
Prepared by the U.S, Chamber of Commerce
If you are an independent contractor or self-employed individual, you may be eligible for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans/grants, SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL), and/or Unemployment Compensation for losses of income related to the coronavirus pandemic.
If you are an independent contractor or are self employed and don't have any employees, here's what you need to know about each program.
Am I eligible?
1. You were in operation on February 15, 2020,
2. Your primary place of residence is the United States
3. You filed or will file a Form 1040 Schedule C for 2019 showing self-employment income.
NOTE: The SBA will issue additional guidance for those individuals with self-employment income who were not in operation in 2019 but were in operation on February 15, 2020. NOTE: As of April 16, 2020, the PPP program was running out funds. Congress may replenish funding; in which case this guide will be updated.
What will lenders BE LOOKING FOR?
IMPORTANT Because many independent contractors do not have deductible expenses for interest, rent, or utilities, their loan forgiveness will be limited to eight weeks’ worth of their 2019 net profit (replacement compensation).
However, they can borrow 2.5 months’ worth of their 2019 net profit. That is, if an independent contractor borrows the full amount, they may have a loan balance that needs to be repaid.
Download 2019 EPCC Magazine
East Portland Chamber of Commerce is a 501(c)6 non-profit organization | PO Box 90186 | Portland, OR 97290 | 503-788-8589