By BROOKE SNAVELY
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS
Some local restaurants and gyms may open New Year’s Day in defiance of state mandates aimed at reducing the spread of COVID-19.
At least two restaurants in Redmond have already reopened indoor dining.
“We are now losing businesses in town because of the state mandates,” said Redmond Mayor George Endicott.
Endicott attended a meeting earlier this week where 14 restaurants discussed reopening.
He’s since spoken with a few of them and learned some will continue with takeout or outdoor dining, while others intend to open indoor dining, an activity considered by some medical associations as moderate to high risk for spreading COVID-19.
“I don’t think the state of Oregon is collecting sufficient information,” Enidcott said. “When I ask questions, I’d like to see for the county or city, the city in particular, how many are caused by restaurants, how many are caused by gyms, how many are caused by family gatherings. We aren’t getting that information. I keep asking and I’d like to see that so I can make an informed decision.”
Businesses in a number of other Oregon cities also plan to open Jan. 1 in defiance of state restrictions.
Today, Governor Kate Brown issued a written statement saying her executive orders have reduced the spread of COVID-19.
“If businesses reopen too early and instead create new spikes in COVID-19 cases, the actions of a few business owners could set entire communities back and keep them in the Extreme Risk category even longer,” Brown wrote.
I visited two restaurants in Redmond today where indoor dining is already happening.
Managers at both establishments declined to be interviewed until a later date.
One has armed security guards posted outside, who told me I couldn’t record video of the premises.
“A more outspoken owner of one of the restaurants said she’s received threats and so a group… it’s my understanding there are armed people there to protect her and her business,” Endicott said.
Endicott said city council will take up the issue of businesses defying state mandates at a Jan. 5 work session.
“If Redmond by itself passes a resolution, we’d become a target,” Endicott said. “If 100 cities did it, that’s one thing en masse. You need a lot of support if you are going to try and step out and defy the state. In my heart I’d like to do that but I don’t know if that’s the wise thing to do.”
Governor Brown says she has directed OSHA and the OLCC to deploy all available resources to ensure businesses are in compliance.
Those that refuse may be issued citations, fines and red warning notices.