▶️ Mayor calls for renewed focus on masks, distancing after critical OLCC report

By BROOKE SNAVELY
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS

Bend Mayor Sally Russell is calling for a renewed focus on maintaining social distancing and wearing masks after an OLCC report was critical of downtown bars and restaurants not complying with state guidelines.

During a sweep of bars and restaurants over the 4th of July holiday weekend, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission said most customers and businesses were complying with social distancing and mask-wearing rules.

But OLCC inspectors encountered several problem areas here in Bend.

The inspectors reported some businesses or their customers showed “clear disregard” for social distancing requirements.

Inspectors founding social distancing violations at bars and restaurants in downtown Bend.

Russell said OLCC inspectors visited 25 places within Bend.

“They helped educate or gave warnings, I’m not sure which. It might have been both to about 12 businesses,” she said. “They found four or five businesses that they felt had issues with social distancing and face coverings.”

Russell said helping businesses and their customers practice health protocols so businesses can stay open and continue to provide services is a high priority for the city.

“As a community, if we are going to open our schools and keep businesses open, we have got to be increasingly conscientious about how we interact with each other so we don’t contract the virus.”

Terry and Dawn VanAntwerp of Bend say they’re noticing people following rules.

“We probably all bumped into it (the virus) somewhere along the line,” said Terry VanAntwerp. “We went to 10 Barrel today and people were being really cool there.”

“The businesses are doing their due diligence and we are all about supporting the small businesses,” said Dawn VanAntwerp. “We want to get them back on their feet where they belong.”

Central Oregon Daily News spoke with three downtown restaurant and bar owners on Thursday. None wanted to appear on camera but all said they were doing their best to stay in compliance and keep everyone safe.

One said it would be harsh if the few businesses that got flagged cause others that are playing by the rules to shut down.

“I do feel safe. I think everybody’s taking reasonable precautions. I think everybody’s being respectful here in Bend,” said George Riggins of Bend. “They are staying six feet apart. I think folks that maybe have symptoms or underlying issues are staying at home.”

Russell reiterated what everyone from the CDC to Gov. Kate Brown has suggested.

“The best thing we can do right now is to practice these three W’s: Wearing a face-covering in public, especially indoors. Washing our hands and watching our distance,” she said.

After OLCC inspectors complete their reports about observed violations of social distancing requirements, the cases will be forwarded to the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration for action.

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