Wyden, Merkley Seek COVID-19 Relief for Live Venues

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley today urged Senate leadership to include economic relief for live venue operators in Oregon and nationwide as part of any additional response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a letter from the Oregon senators and 41 of their colleagues to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, they noted that live event venues were among the first to close as COVID-19 spread and are likely to be among the last to reopen.

“Concerts and live events may not be possible until a vaccine is readily available to the public, which could be many months away, if not longer,” the senators wrote. “Until that time, live event venues will remain shuttered, leaving employees without jobs and businesses without revenue. The continued closures will also impact the numerous contractors, suppliers, and business partners that support the live entertainment industry in our states.”

The lawmakers wrote that these entertainment hubs are important economic multipliers, generating millions in tax revenue and providing jobs as well as supporting neighboring businesses such as restaurants, hotels, and retail.

“We are concerned that even if these entertainment venues are able to withstand the shutdowns, they will not be economically viable operating at 25 or 50 percent occupancy,” they wrote. “Congress has taken swift action to support the economy, but the programs we have enacted provide little relief to independent venues. Short-term disruption assistance has provided a lifeline for millions of Americans, but businesses that face prolonged closure also need help.

“Without assistance targeted to their unique situation, venues, artists, and our local communities face an unprecedented crisis,” they wrote. “We support providing government funding, tax relief measures, and assistance to manage mortgage, rent, and other debt burdens for mom and pop venues across the country.”

In addition to Wyden and Merkley, 41 other senators from both parties signed the bipartisan letter led by U.S. Sens. Thomas Carper (D-DE) and John Cornyn (D-TX).

A copy of the entire letter is here.

A web version of this release is here.