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Small business owners worry that insurance will not cover closures

Ramzy Hattar, owner of River Pig Saloon, is afraid losses from a virus or bacteria is not covered by insurance.

PORTLAND, Ore. — The often bustling River Pig Saloon in the Pearl District is quiet. Like so many bars and restaurants across the state, it is closed. Owner Ramzy Hattar says staying open for only carry out just did not make sense.

"It would cost us more money to stay open to provide just to-go orders," he said.

Hattar says he laid off the employees at his Portland and Bend locations so they could collect unemployment. He then reached out to his insurance company for some sort of relief for himself and his business. He is hearing that loss caused by a virus or bacteria typically is not covered.

"It's more than disheartening," said Hattar. "It's more than frustration."

Hattar is not a fan of big insurance carriers.

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"The premiums are extremely high and it doesn't ever seem like it works out for the business owner," he said. "We have to have them and we have to pay them but when we need them to come through they find a way out of it."

Not all hope is lost though. Hattar and other small business owners may qualify for a loan through the U.S. Small Business Administration. A staffer in Oregon Governor Kate Brown's office addressed that during a conference call Wednesday morning.

"The Governor did, last night, finalize the SBA declaration and it's statewide," said the staffer. "All counties are eligible."

That provides at least some comfort for Hattar at a time when any sense of comfort is hard to come by.

"Right now it's digging down and trying to survive and save the business so we can re-open one day," said Hattar.

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