▶️ Bars, restaurants busy again; owners careful to follow the rules

By ANYSSA BOHANAN
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS

If you were out and about in Bend after Friday’s reopening, you may have noticed that restaurants and bars were busy with people.

But business owners say that they’re doing everything possible to ensure that their customers stay safe.

“Wiping, wiping and more wiping is our mantra right now!” The Podski’s Beer Bar owner Caleb Trowbridge said.

Restaurants and bars look very different than they did two months ago.

“The cap of 25 people in a space, no matter how large, is the toughest thing to handle,” River Pig Saloon over Ramzy Hattar said.

From tables pushed into parking lots to promote social distancing, to removing bar stools, businesses like the The Podski and River Pig Saloon say they’re taking every precaution necessary.

However, Friday’s large crowds created new concerns.

“We had a lot of people out on Friday, we had people out on the sidewalk waiting,” said Hattar. “It was people everywhere, and it was like that all over town.”

But, Trowbridge says, people were behaving.

“I mean there was a lot of people out on Friday. If you drove by, you were probably like, ‘Eeesh! There’s a ton of people there’,” said Trowbridge. “If you looked closely, people that were close together that were in their own groups. I really think everyone did really well on Friday.”

On top of their own precautions, business owners are also encouraging individual customers to remain vigilant.

“It’s been hard for us to try and police the social distancing side, especially out on the patio,” said Hattar. “We put signage up to let people know that we’re aware of it but we can’t control people.”

“We can’t go tell you to stay 6-feet apart or judge who’s in a party or not,” said Trowbridge. “But we can mention something if there’s 20 people not following the rules.”

That vigilance is even more important now as Deschutes County Health officials expect COVID-19 cases to increase now that more businesses are open.

Customers with concerns about businesses’ precautions, or lack thereof, are encouraged to contact Deschutes County Environmental Health.

“We’ll work with those restaurants one on one to help them develop strategies and implement those to maintain a healthy and safe environment for their customers,” Deschutes County Health’s Morgan Emerson said.

Hattar says that, while some may disagree with the reopening, many businesses are simply doing what they can to survive.

“We need to pay bills, we need to pay rent, we need to pay our staff and we need to feed our families,” said Hattar. “We’re doing everything we can to do the right thing and stay afloat.”

You can contact Deschutes County Environmental Health at 541-388-6066, 800-922-2689, send an email to tech.web@oregon.gov, or use the online report form.

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