By BROOKE SNAVELY
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS
City and business officials are scrambling to respond to new restrictions that limit group activities and close some businesses to stop the spread of COVID 19.
Thursday, the Bend City Council considered implementing proactive code enforcement and new messaging aimed at young adults to reduce risky behavior.
The governor’s two-week freeze closing gyms and fitness facilities and limiting bars and restaurants to take out service only, go far beyond anything the city council was contemplating.
“So now that we know additional businesses are going to shut down, we are pivoting to: How do we support these businesses to still serve our community? How do keep them open? What are the next steps?” said Sally Russell, Bend Mayor.
“Our first responsibility is to make sure every business in the city understands the new restrictions,” said Carolyn Eagan, Bend’s Economic Development Director.
Eagan said a newsletter that makes clear what the new restrictions are will be sent today to all registered businesses in the city limits.
“One of the biggest concerns with this new pause is the support for employees and their families may not be there at the same level that we had earlier this year. Making sure each employer knows how their employees should be signing up for unemployment insurance, where there are resources for their families,” Eagan said. “This time around it may be an opportunity for employees in the restaurant, bar and other sectors to think about jobs in other sectors this winter. We don’t know how long this pause is going to go.”
Visit Bend, the organization that normally promotes tourism, will renew a webpage listing restaurants that remain open for takeout. Visit Bend launched the web page list earlier this year when the pandemic first began, and it continues messaging to the traveling public that now is not the time to visit.
“The best I can hope for is we take this 2-week pause. We take it seriously and then the industry and these businesses can get up and running again in a more traditional way. And we can get things like Christmas and ski season in January and February the way we would like to see it,” said Kevney Dugan, Visit Bend CEO.
Dugan says many local travel and hospitality businesses survived the initial COVID closures and hopefully can do so again.
He says if there is a silver lining in this latest shut down, it is happening at the tourism industry’s slowest time of year.