Cities don’t have formal role in official reopening rules/plans
By TED TAYLOR
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS
Redmond Mayor George Endicott and other city leaders have been talking with local businesses in recent weeks to get insights on what they’ll need to smoothly reopen their doors.
Through the phone calls with those eager to get back to work, a consistent message emerged.
“Look, you give us a set of guidelines – we understand, once we open we want to stay open,” Endicott said Thursday in a news conference with local city managers and mayors. “Give us the guidelines we’ll follow them and we’ll make sure our customers follow them. We’re tired of having no income.”
The leaders referenced five recent listening sessions with the Bend and Redmond Chambers of Commerce and focus groups from various business sectors to collect feedback that could help guide the county and state reopening plans.
Businesses outlined several issues they want to see tackled as a reopening plan moves forward including making sure they are given enough time to implement new social distancing rules and acquire cleaning supplies, PPE and signage.
They also said a safe reopening should include childcare availability and a sense that community confidence has been restored with a clear message on new behaviors.
“We’re working really closely with this input from our business community to make sure they’re able to handle some customers,” Bend City Manager Eric King said. “The opening is going to be slow and measured based on what we’re hearing and our job at the city is to support that.”
Bend Mayor Sally Russell said nobody wants to have to go backward once we start the first phases of opening.
“We know there will be new protocols,” she said. “We need people to embrace the new guidelines (wearing masks, not going out of they feel ill.) All those things will help us open and stay open.”
Thursday’s joint news conference was the first of what’s expected to be weekly updates from local city leaders.
The officials said they’re still waiting on more clear guidelines for the phases of reopening from Gov. Kate Brown and they expect those in the coming days.
Deschutes County Commissioners are also working on a phased-in approach to reopening, saying several things need to happen first such as increased testing and PPE availability.
King and Russell said the cities don’t have a formal role in the reopening plan, but they’ve been sharing the information gleaned from local businesses with the state as they draft their plan.
“It’s up to the state for those guidelines,” Russell said. “We can contribute to the conversations so they can understand the needs of our communities.”
King said the city held more of a communication and enforcement role by translating some of the messaging coming from the governor’s office.
He also said when the governor does give the go-ahead, he won’t immediately open Bend back for business to outsiders.
“Really we see the first stage of this opening being mainly to help our local economy have access to our population and really remain very cautious about having outsiders coming from out of the area to avoid a relapse into that shelter in place mode we’re in today,” he said.