As schools, businesses, shops and more temporarily close because of COVID-19, Americans are looking to the outdoors – while adhering to CDC guidelines – to provide a necessary reprieve from the intense mental and physical stress caused by this crisis and the vital efforts to combat it. In order to recover from this economic recession, members of the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable say all efforts should be taken to support the outdoor recreation industry, an economic sector that can help communities recover, grow the economy, create American jobs and continue to benefit Americans’ quality of life
While the overall impact of the outdoor economy is massive, the industry is mostly comprised of small businesses that are vital to the health and economic well-being of their communities, many in rural areas. Thousands of these businesses are suffering and in danger of failing because of the COVID-19 outbreak and the ensuing efforts to mitigate the virus’ spread, including social distancing, travel restrictions, caps on group size, public land and retail closures, supply chain issues and more.
Recreation businesses oftentimes rely on seasonal trips and travel and should be kicking off the busy spring and summer months, but instead are shuttered. They also rely on accessibility to recreation assets on our public lands and waters, adequate infrastructure, and the certainty of manufacturing, retail and trade, all of which have been interrupted.
Despite all of their hardships, outdoor recreation companies across the country are stepping up to aid first responders, healthcare workers and law enforcement. The RV industry is providing mobile medical clinics, campgrounds are providing temporary accommodations for traveling medical personnel, outdoor gear and apparel manufacturers have converted their production lines to make PPE and marine retailers are donating their supplies of N95 masks as many marinas offer slips to law enforcement to ensure swift response on the water.
ORR offered its appreciation of the passage of additional funding for the CARES Act and urges Congress to support resilient communities, economies and healthy people by reinvigorating this once-vibrant, and now struggling, industry in the coming months.
"Action is needed on smart policies and investments that will save the outdoor recreation economy so this sector can do what it does best – revitalize communities, create jobs, support healthy people, improve quality of life and provide access to amazing outdoor experiences for generations to come," a release from the ORR stated.
ORR has proposed the following adjustments to the CARES Act:
- Provide flexibility for how seasonal employers calculate PPP Loan eligibility and forgiveness;
- Extension of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) beyond eight weeks;
- Expansion of SBA Lending Authority to meet demand
- Add c6 Nonprofit eligibility to help trade recreation associations stay afloat;
- Waive fees on public lands and waters and extensions of contracts/permits;
- Waive affiliation rules for outdoor recreation businesses.
See the ORR website for resources from members, information on the outdoor industry's needs and what it is doing to support COVID-19 response efforts.