Thursday, March 4

Metro restaurant owners prepare for new round of COVID-19 rules as virus spreads –

PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) – The news of Oregon’s pause in five counties when it comes to COVID-19 restrictions is not sitting well with some in the restaurant industry.

On Friday, Gov. Kate Brown announced new guidelines aimed at slowing down the states rising COVI-19 infections. In recent weeks the state has seen record high daily case counts and other signs the progression of the virus has gotten worse.

Restrictions for the restaurant industry will take effect next Wednesday in five Oregon counties: Malheur, Marion, Multnomah, Jackson, and Umatilla.

Some of the restrictions include reducing capacity of indoor dining to 50 people at restaurants and limiting the number of people in cohorts from 10 down to six.

RELATED: Gov. Brown announces 2-week pause in five Oregon counties following recording-breaking days of COVID-19 cases

Ramzy Hattar owns the River Pig Saloon in northwest Portland.

“Another speed bump in the road, Hattar said. “I mean, we are just gonna have deal with it and move on.”

Hattar learned of the new regulations on Friday and says they will have an impact on his businesses. He says right now, they are going over them to see how they can rearrange seating to meet the guidelines.

“I am glad that we are still open,” Hattar said. “I am glad that she is going to allow us to stay open, it is just is really challenging, we invested a lot just to be open.”

The River Pig Saloon has a big tent with outdoor seating set up on Northwest 13th Avenue. It is one of the options the city moved forward with to help Portland restaurants. Hattar says without it he doesn’t know where they would be.

Under Brown’s latest order, parties of 10 will no longer be allowed – groups of six is the new regulation. No more than 50 people are allowed for indoor dining. Hattar says that will be tough on their bottom line, as they already have 10 staff members working.

“People don’t quite realize how much more we have to do, how much more work we have here just following the regulations and monitoring our own staff and making sure everyone is safe,” Hattar said.

The Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association is not thrilled with the rule change either.

“There is a lot of anxiety and stress out there,” ORLA President & CEO, Jason Brandt said.

He adds Oregon’s restaurants have done an outstanding job trying to meet the challenges they have faced. He says the restaurant industry is not where the outbreaks are happening, but rather in private gatherings.

“Those people that aren’t doing the responsible thing and continue to make poor decisions that are impacting the health and safety of other people shame on them. We see ourselves as part of the solution,” Brandt said.

Brandt says it is up to others to make a change to get COVID-19 under control before it is too late for some restaurants. Many restaurant owners say another shutdown will likely put them out of business.

Brandt says he feels the industry is being unfairly singled out.

“We feel targeted,” Brandt said. “We feel that we are being asked to do more than other industries are having to do with the number culprit being private uncontrolled gathers where the virus is spreading.”

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