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Portland Restaurants Hoping for Relief

The restaurant industry is in a survival struggle.
Some Portland restaurant owners are hoping their outdoor dining permits will not expire November first.

Lucy Ann Tillett enjoys dinner with her family in a white tent shelter outside at TC O-Leary’s Irish Pub in Portland. It protects them from rain. “I appreciate the tent, I appreciate that it was sent out on Facebook that you probably should put an extra layer on,” says Tillett.

Owner Tom O’Leary put the tent up this summer to shade customers. Now it’s become a rain shelter. Since reopening, O’Leary’s only served customers outside. He tells our news partner KGW: “We’re not prepared to risk our customers, we’re not prepared to risk our staff’s health indoors.”

He’s anxious to find out whether the Portland Bureau of Transportation will extend free parking plaza permits for outdoor seating at restaurants past November first. PBOT is asking for the public’s input on whether to extend the permits.

Meantime, Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenaur says he’s gotten support from 200 other members of the House of Representatives, and 40 U.S. Senators, who have signed on as sponsors, to creating a $120 billion fund for restaurants, to keep paying for workers, utilities and rent. The lawmakers want to make it part of the next package of coronavirus relief.

A recent National Bureau of Economic Research report found that only 15% of independent restaurants may survive if the pandemic continues. There are about 500,000 thousand independent restaurants and bars, with about 11 million employees.

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