Hospitality Industry FAQs (COVID-19)

General Industry GuidanceRestaurant GuidanceLodging / Hotel Guidance What kind of relief is available for employers and employees? Visit ORLA’s web page on Relief Available for Employers and Employees. What will reopening look like...

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General Industry Guidance
Restaurant Guidance
Lodging / Hotel Guidance

What kind of relief is available for employers and employees? Visit ORLA’s web page on Relief Available for Employers and Employees.

What will reopening look like for Oregon and for our industry?  The Governor has released guidance on phase one reopening for restaurants and general guidance for employers. Counties will be able to submit their reopening plans starting May 8th for review by the Governor’s team, with May 15th as the earliest possible opening date. The counties will need to demonstrate that they are meeting public health criteria to safely reopen. Read the latest updates from our CEO Jason Brandt.Fisher Phillips has developed a helpful “Post-Pandemic Back-To-Business FAQs For Employers” which covers a variety of topics, including workplace safety, human resource considerations, and unemployment compensation. 

What tools are available to me as I work on reopening? ORLA has launched the “Commitment to Safety Seal” that association members can take advantage of. We have developed comprehensive checklists for both restaurant and lodging operators to review all details of operations and ensure best practices. To make the commitment and receive the “Commitment to Safety Seal,” please visit here

I’ve heard that the CARES Act provides forgivable loan opportunities for small businesses. How does that program work? The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) may be entirely forgivable if the business brings back employees or restores wages. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has developed a guide and checklist on the PPP; read more here

What’s the first step I should take to apply for funds through the Paycheck Protection Program? According to the SBA, the fastest and best way for you to get PPP/EIDL loans is to work directly with the bank where you hold your business banking account or have a current loan. We encourage everyone to reach out to your business bank immediately to learn if your bank will be participating in the PPP and when you can apply.

What can be paid for by funds received through the Paycheck Protection Program? You should use the proceeds from these loans on payroll costs, including benefits; interest on mortgage obligations, incurred before February 15, 2020; rent, under lease agreements in force before February 15, 2020; and utilities, for which service began before February 15, 2020. Payroll costs include: salary, wages, commissions, or tips (capped at $100,000 on an annualized basis for each employee); employee benefits including costs for vacation, parental, family, medical, or sick leave; allowance for separation or dismissal; payments required for the provisions of group health care benefits including insurance premiums; and payment of any retirement benefit; state and local taxes assessed on compensation; and for a sole proprietor or independent contractor: wages, commissions, income, or net earnings from self-employment, capped at $100,000 on an annualized basis for each employee. For more guidance on the PPP, click here for the final interim rule. 

What are some of the things to consider with the 8-week loan window?  The Paycheck Protection Program asks that businesses rehire the full number of FTEs within their measurement period by the end of the program date for full loan forgiveness. With a June 30th program end date, many operators believe it will be very difficult to get back up to their previous FTE counts by then. This FTE measurement, however, is not tied to individuals; it is based on FTE count. Keep in mind that if you have a PPP loan, you can also have other SBA loans, as long as you use them for different purposes. For example, you can use your PPP to cover payroll for the 8-week period, but you cannot use a different SBA loan product for payroll for those same costs in the same period. However, you could use it for payroll not during that period or for different workers. 

Where can I find participating leaders for the Paycheck Protection Program? Click here to see a list of lenders participating in the Paycheck Protection Program. For other SBA loans and programs, contact SBA directly.

How are part-time employees accounted for in the Paycheck Protection Program? There are two options for how to treat part-time employees in the Paycheck Protection Program; the method chosen must be used for all part-time employees. In the first option, employees who were paid for less than 40 hours per week can be calculated based upon the actual hours worked during a given week compared to 40 hours. In the second option, the part-time employee can be assigned as a 0.50 FTE. To read more, view pages 17 and 18 here. 

Where is the PPP forgiveness application? See the application here

How can operators pay themselves during this time? Pandemic Unemployment Assistance will provide unemployment benefits to workers not typically covered by regular unemployment insurance benefits. Oregon Employment Department has now opened the program and is accepting applications. Read more and apply here. Business owners are also eligible for unemployment insurance if they have previously been paying themselves as an employee.  An operator can pay themselves as an employee using the funding from SBA loan option they have chosen. The PPP has a $100k annualized cap on what it will forgive for compensation for an individual.  

If a business decides to pay employees but keep its doors closed, are employees required to come to work? The main goal of programs like the PPP is to keep people on payroll and not overwhelm unemployment insurance programs. You do not have to be operating as you typically do to keep your employees on your payroll. 

I’ve heard the Families First Coronavirus Response Act requires employers to provide paid leave to employees unable to work due to COVID-19. If an employee was laid off before the bill’s effective date on April 1st, 2020 and they are no longer employed, would the past employer be liable for paid leave?  We have been advised that the new federal law provisions regarding paid leave would not apply to laid off workers if the business is closed, whether the closure occurs before or after April 1, the effective date of the law date. To read more on this, read Fisher Phillips’ discussion of the Department of Labor’s guidance on the new law. The Department of Labor has a number of helpful FAQs on their website, which can be found here. Additional questions and answers have been provided by law firm Fisher Phillips found here

What are some of the options I have for my business during this time regarding employment? NW Employer Solutions, LLC, developed a presentation on Innovative Legal Solutions for Employers (COVID-19 Options) that addresses these options, including definitions of workforce reductions, unemployment options, and new legislation (E-PSL and EFML). Download presentation slides.Fisher Phillips has released a 50 State Guide for Unemployment Insurance. To read guidance for Oregon, login to this website and access the Resource Library. (Members-only content)

Will my PPP loan forgiveness amount be reduced if I offered to rehire the same employee, but the employee declined the offer? No. Employers who have attempted to rehire staff (for the same salary/wages and same number of hours) will not be penalized because of a declined offer in the CARES Act’s loan forgiveness reduction calculation. Be sure to make a written offer and carefully document these efforts. To read more, click here. Note that the newest guidance requires employers to inform the State Unemployment Insurance agency of the employee’s “rejected offer of reemployment within 30 days” of the rejection. To read the latest there, visit page 14 and 15 of the Interim Final Rule.

I’ve heard that some individuals claiming unemployment may receive more in unemployment benefits than working. What are some ways to make things work for my business in spite of that?The Director of the Oregon Employment Department has indicated that if someone is not returning to work because they would be getting more in benefits than they would by returning to work, or similar reasons, those people would not be able to receive UI benefits. If you suspect UI fraud is happening in Oregon, please use the Fraud Hotline. For more information, the Oregon Employment Department has released temporary rules addressing COVID-19 related unemployment insurance benefits and eligibility.Bar & Restaurant has a good discussion of this issue, especially as it relates to the PPP loan.

Do you recommend paying employees bonuses with the PPP loan?  
The Treasury has officially announced that bonuses or hazard pay for employees are both acceptable to be forgiven under the PPP, so long as it does not exceed $100,000 as prorated for the covered period. To read more on the issue, click here and view page 11. Previous guidance stated that business owners are not eligible for bonuses.

What do employers do regarding salary employees and pay if the business needs to close for a duration of time? For guidance on exempt employees, please see this post from Littler regarding furloughs and other temporary responses to coronavirus.  

What do I do if an employee has COVID-19 or a confirmed guest is traced to my business? First, if they are still at your place of business, ask the person to leave your property, or to stay home and not come in. Gather as much information as you can that will assist in contact tracing. If you can get information on customers and co-workers who encountered an ill employee, for example, please do. Finally, contact your local public health department, who will work on contact tracing. Find health and business contacts by county here. Educate your staff on following the guidance and recognizing the symptoms; see OHA’s guidance here. ​

Do you have any recommendations for how businesses can manage communications around COVID-19, particularly if an employee or customer is diagnosed with the virus? If an employee has tested positive, the employer should identify “close contacts” within the workplace and let those employees know, and direct them to their doctor and CDC guidelines. Be sure not to identify the individual. The Harvard Business Review has more information here. However, note that the CDC has relaxed its previous guidance on returning essential employees to work after being potentially exposed to COVID-19. Those essential employees who are asymptomatic are now advised that they can return to work if they follow certain precautions. To learn more about these guidelines, visit Fisher Phillips’ alert here.The following link provides crisis communications recommendations for hotels but also includes valuable information for restaurant owners: Hotel Marketing During the Coronavirus Crisis. If you need additional assistance, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our team at ORLA.

I’ve heard some places are instituting temperature checks and mask usage. Oregon will be requiring cloth, paper, or disposable face coverings or face shields for restaurant workers and for employees to provide them. There is no requirement for temperature checks of either employees or guests, but the guidance asks that employers consider it for employees. See also guidance on face covering use.The Restaurant Law Center has developed guidance on some of these kinds of practices. Read more here. The CDC has recommended new guidelines for essential COVID-19 exposed employees – including temperature checks. To learn more about these guidelines, read Fisher Phillips’ alert here.​

If I have businesses under separate entities, should I file for multiple SBA disaster relief loans? Where is the money coming from? Operators can file for multiple SBA disaster loans if they have different LLCs as long as each has their own EIN. The money is coming from the US Treasury. 

What is happening with the Corporate Activities Tax? How does the CAT work with the PPP? Despite a great deal of pressure from our industry and other business groups, Governor Brown has indicated she will not delay the Corporate Activities Tax. However, some changes have been made with the Department of Revenue. No penalties will be assessed for underestimated payments or for not making a quarterly payment if businesses don’t have the financial ability to make the estimated payment; businesses must document their efforts to comply, including how COVID-19 has impacted their business. DOR has also raised the threshold for making estimated tax payments from $5,000 of annual tax liability to $10,000 of annual tax liability for the first year of the tax; businesses in this situation that have not yet made their first quarter payment will not have to do so. It is providing updates on the DOR website. The Oregon Department of Revenue has declared that federal assistance to businesses under the 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

I’ve chosen to close my business permanently. What are the steps I need to take for that? If you choose to close your business permanently, the Secretary of State outlines the steps for making a permanent closure.What can I do to help? Text “ORLA” to 52886 to receive the latest text updates and calls-to-action to support our industry. See below for industry-specific directions.​

Author: Smith Schafer
January 17, 2019

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