Due to COVID-19, Oregon has already lost 53,000 hospitality and leisure jobs, more restaurant and bar closures will make it worse
PORTLAND, Ore. — Closures due to COVID-19, coupled with unprecedented wildfires, have had a devastating impact on Oregon’s breweries, wineries, cideries, distilleries, restaurants, bars and hospitality sector. The Oregon Beverage Alliance released the following statement after a reinstatement of restaurant and bar closures was announced:
“Earlier this spring, when brewpubs, tasting rooms, restaurants and bars were ordered by the state of Oregon to close, overnight our business models were destroyed. Another weeks-long closure adds insult to injury.
“Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Oregon was home to 400 breweries, 900 wineries, 1,200 vineyards, 60 cideries, more than 50 distilleries, 73 distributors, 10,000 restaurants and 37,200 farms, creating thousands of good-paying jobs and several billion dollars in wages. Many of those jobs are now at risk or have been lost.
“The state’s own Economic and Revenue Forecast showed the hospitality sector has been hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic. The report states demand and revenue for Oregon’s restaurants and bars are down 56% and the leisure and hospitality sector will have lost 53,000 jobs in 2020 — a 44% decrease — far more than any other sector.
“Beer, wine, cider and spirits are an essential part of Oregon’s economy and identity. In order to survive, Oregon’s breweries, wineries, cideries, restaurants and bars need the support of our elected officials. As our businesses face these brutal realities, we hope the governor and state legislators will resist any attempt to add to the misery by saddling us with cumbersome new taxes. That’s the last thing our homegrown businesses need right now. We remain committed to working together to help rebuild our economy and communities once the public health crisis ends.”
On Nov. 13, Governor Kate Brown announced restaurants and bars would be limited to take-out only through at least Dec. 2 — longer in Multnomah County — as part of a minimum two-week “freeze” to address another COVID-19 case spike in several counties.
Sadly, earlier this year the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) released a budget proposal for the next biennium budget that would have raised $293 million from new beer, wine and cider taxes. The OHA proposal would result in an unprecedented 800% tax increase on Oregon’s brewers, winemakers, cideries and consumers at a time when people are struggling with the COVID-19 recession. Tax increases only make it harder for these businesses to invest in rehiring, equipment, upgrades and expansion, and will result in higher prices for consumers.
Oregonians also overwhelmingly voted to fund OHA and addiction recovery through Ballot Measure 110, making it unnecessary to raise taxes on Oregon’s local beer, wine, cider, spirits and hospitality businesses. More than 80% of Oregon likely voters oppose increasing beer, wine and cider taxes because they know these businesses are vitally important to Oregon’s identity and economy.
Oregon already has some of the highest alcohol prices in the country. And Oregon’s beer, wine, cider and spirits sectors are the third largest source of revenue for the state — behind income taxes and the state lottery.
About the Oregon Beverage Alliance
The Oregon Beverage Alliance is made up of local brewers, winemakers, cidermakers, distillers and their supply and hospitality partners creating hundreds of thousands of jobs. Learn more: www.DontTaxMyDrink.org