Deschutes County Shifts to High Risk Friday


Dear Bend Business Owner,

Here we go again. On Tuesday, the Oregon Health Authority confirmed that Deschutes County will move to High Risk from Moderate Risk, beginning tomorrow, April 9. With that change comes new, tighter, restrictions on occupancy for a number of businesses here in Bend.

I know this is disheartening, but I am hopeful that as vaccinations continue to ramp up these spikes will lose momentum and we’ll find that trajectory back to the lower risk levels that many of your businesses need more than ever as we approach a summer that has every indication of being a busy one.

Please read on for details about these changes, details on upcoming restaurant relief opportunities, plus let us know how your hiring is going.

Changing Risk Levels

At this point, you’re likely each well acquainted with the mechanics behind our shifting guidance system from the state that dictates business capacity levels based on countywide infection data. You can view a high-level overview of the High Risk business guidance by sector here.

Remember, County risk levels are re-evaluated every two weeks. The State will make their next announcement on changing risk levels on Tuesday, April 20.

Under the High Risk guidance, restaurant maximum indoor occupancy will be limited to 25 percent of your building capacity or 50 customers, whichever number is lower. Outdoor dining locations are now limited to 75 customers.

For gyms and indoor entertainment establishments, maximum capacity is now limited to 25 percent of your building occupancy or 50 customers, whichever number is smaller. Retail businesses will be capped at 50 percent of your occupancy.

You can find the detailed guidance by industry here; be sure to scroll down to the section titled Guidance Based on County Risk Level.

SBA Restaurant Relief Fund

The Small Business Administration is in the final stages of launching a $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund. While their site is not yet live, it’s expected to launch this week at; with application opening in mid-April. 

Depending on when your restaurant opened, you may be eligible to receive funding equal to the difference between your 2019 revenue and 2020 revenue, minus any PPP funds. For restaurants that opened after 2019, you’ll still be able to make an application. Expect more details once the website is live, but please bookmark it if this sounds like an avenue you’d like to explore.

Other Business Assistance Opportunities

Hiring is top of mind for many businesses right now. Active job postings in Bend exceed those at the same point in 2019, despite our continued economic uncertainty. That said, I’m getting plenty of feedback that hiring is difficult. Please help us build some data around this by providing an answer to the survey question below.

While this is an unscientific way to gather information; any feedback we receive from businesses now can help as all levels of government identify how they’ll deploy the latest round of business relief funds.

If your business currently has job openings posted, how would you rate your experience trying to fill these roles?

More difficult than before the pandemic

Less difficult than before the pandemic

About the same as before the pandemic

We are not currently seeking new employees

I’ve visited with countless businesses since the pandemic began, especially those of you most impacted by business restrictions. I have yet to meet a business owner who hasn’t made a significant investment in making your space as safe as possible at a time you could afford it the least. Please keep up the great work you’ve each been doing in the face of these continued hurdles; we’ve all heard the pandemic described as a marathon, but it’s starting to feel like the finish line will soon be in sight.

Thank you for doing business in Bend.



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