Prineville mayor-elect clarifies stance on wanting to reopen businesses Jan. 1

Prineville’s mayor-elect on Monday sought to clarify his position on reopening restaurants and gyms on January 1st, saying he is “not encouraging citizens or businesses to defy state law.”

“What I am trying to do is get these overbearing restrictions removed so that we can live our lives with the liberties and freedoms guaranteed to us by our Constitution and fought and sacrificed for by generations of Americans,” said Jason Beebe, a long-time city councilor who will take over as mayor on January 4th.

Last week Beebe was part of a conference call among “Main Street Mayors,” an Oregon coalition of small-town mayors standing behind local businesses ready to reopen.

The group calls itself a “peaceful, non-partisan organization with a political action committee dedicated to supporting candidates and measures that stand up for the Main Street small businesses threatened by government overreach.”

In a press release, the coalition said it was supporting members of the coalition “operating in counties labeled “Extreme Risk” who will voluntarily comply with state requirements for “High Risk” counties starting on January 1, 2021. This will allow restaurants and gyms to open at significantly reduced capacity.”

Crook County is included in the “Extreme Risk” category and currently, restaurants and bars can offer only outdoor seating and take-out. Gyms are not allowed to open.

Prineville easing the restrictions on its own would go against state mandates and OSHA has penalized several local restaurants that have ignored the rules and stayed open for indoor dining.

“There’s no reason we shouldn’t be able to open businesses and let them thrive,” Beebe said last week. “We have a lot of businesses that are about ready to go and I don’t want to see that.”

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Beebe told Central Oregon Daily News there’s no harm in listening to what the Main Street Mayors Coalition has to say.

“Maybe this gives us a stronger voice. Maybe we can come together with ideas of how to safely open and up and let these businesses thrive again.”

But on Monday, Beebe clarified his position.

“I am doing everything I can to advocate for removing regulations imposed by our state government, which includes looking under every rock to find a solution for our businesses,” he said, adding that “one rock was the Main Street Mayors Coalition.”

“The restrictions that have shut down businesses throughout our city must end.” he said in his statement. “To date, I have not seen any data that suggest that restaurants, gyms, and other businesses that have been shut down disproportionately contribute to the spread of coronavirus compared to businesses that have remained open.

“We deserve to know the answer to this question, and I challenge Governor Brown to provide us this data.”

Beebe said he will not ask anyone in the community to do anything that could get someone sick and the community supports the restrictions and regulations that keep residents safe.

“However, when regulations and restrictions are arbitrarily imposed upon our community, we deserve to know why,” he said.

You can read Beebe’s full statement below:

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