Portland Restaurant Owners Concerned over Reopening Delay: ‘A Lot of Odds Against Us’

A waitress is holding a tray with dirty dishes and leftover food. Waitress cleaning the table in a restaurant. The concept of service.
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Restaurant owners in Portland, Oregon, are voicing their concerns over Gov. Kate Brown’s (D) last minute delay to reopen Multnomah County.

“It’s just really become a bit unbearable to survive,” business owner Dayna McErlean told KGW 8 on Saturday. “There’s a lot of odds against us. I think we’re going to see many places closing and a very different approach.”

Brown announced a one-week statewide pause on pending county applications for reopening on Thursday.

“When we began reopening nearly a month ago, I was clear that COVID-19 case counts would rise. We now see that happening in several parts of the state, both urban areas and rural communities,” the governor said in a statement.

She continued:

As I have said before, reopening comes with real risk. As we navigate the reopening, we are carefully monitoring the capacity of our public health system to respond to COVID-19 cases without becoming overwhelmed. The noticeable increase in COVID-19 infections in Oregon over the past week is cause for concern.

In order to ensure that the virus is not spreading too quickly, I am putting all county applications for further reopening on hold for seven days. This is essentially a statewide “yellow light.” It is time to press pause for one week before any further reopening.

However, Jason French, owner of Ned Ludd and Elder Hall, said the delay put him in a “pretty foul mood” and added that there was “no good reason why Multnomah County shouldn’t be open.”

“What we have been faced with now is guns blazing, everybody excited about reopening, getting public interest and getting the only real revenue stream for us, and that’s now been taken out from under us,” he stated.

McErlean said some of her colleagues had decided to remain closed until the time was right to reopen.

“Some of her restaurants are in very small spaces so it will be difficult to reconfigure the layouts to allow for social distancing. They won’t be able to seat as many guests, therefore less revenue and income will be coming in, and it will be difficult to make any sort of profit,” according to KGW 8.

Friday on Twitter, Brown further addressed her decision to push back the reopening date:

McErlean remained unsure of how things would be for Portland’s restaurant scene when reopening finally does happen.

“I don’t know how and if we will recover and be the way it was. And in some ways I don’t think the way it was was sustainable and healthy,” she concluded.

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