By STEELE HAUGEN
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS
Gov. Kate Brown announced Tuesday Jefferson County will finally be able to move out of extreme risk and into high risk.
With improving COVID case numbers, facilities like the Madras Aquatic Center can start reopening with a limited capacity of 25%.
It has been closed since November.
“We had to lay off our entire staff of lifeguards and recreation assistants,” said Madras Aquatic Center board of secretary Jinnell Lewis.
The pool will welcome back the swim team and patients who use the pool for physical therapy.
Opening back up allows them to hire two lifeguards.
The Aquatic Center’s goal is to have the facility fully open to the open when the county reaches the lower level risk.
Tuesday’s announcement was also good news for bars and restaurants that can now open to indoor dining.
“It helps us out a lot because we struggled a lot with having no persons inside,” said Erika Montano, daughter of the owner of the restaurant Salvador Montano.
Joe Krenowicz at the Madras Chamber of Commerce said restaurants being open helps the entire community.
“Hopefully we get a lot more traffic going through the town,” Krenowicz said. “On our streets as well as visit other businesses that have been open because they are not under restrictions like restaurants.”
Jefferson County Commissioner Kelly Simmelink says other counties moving to lower risk levels hurt the restaurant business in Jefferson County.
“People were simply driving to get the restaurant experience in Deschutes and Crook and so this is a big step forward and certainly waiting for it for a long, long time,” Simmelink said.
He hopes this is the start of something bigger.
“I am hopeful that this will provide a little bit of ability to heal as a community,” he said. “It has just been rotten and I am so sad about what has been going on. Neighbor versus neighbor. Friend versus friend, with something we didn’t cause.”
The risk level category will go into effect Friday.