While we just wrote about this, please consider ordering takeout this weekend from your favorite bar or restaurant.
Gov. Kate Brown’s two-week freeze is in effect, reducing food establishments to takeout only. That means laying off staff and cutting hours.
Union County is not the most densely populated place, but we have a fair variety of good restaurant choices. Let’s ensure they can hold on through this tough time. And if you can help, they would appreciate it.
Sandy Sorrels, owner and operator of Ten Depot Street, La Grande, told us Friday that her food service representative was making the rounds to local restaurants, and their situation is dire.
“He said two different owners on his rounds this week broke down and cried,” according to Sorrels. “They don’t know what to do. They have expended all of their resources.”
And while the $55 million the state is providing in federal CARES funds will go first to businesses in the hospitality industry, restaurants and other business organizations say it’s not nearly enough to prevent the freeze from leading to widespread closures.
Sorrels also said that’s indeed the situation and the industry needs an infusion of federal funds to make it.
On the flip side of that, there is a local gym flaunting the freeze mandate and remaining open.
Anytime Fitness is not closing down nor requiring its users to wear masks. You can read more about that on the front page of this edition of The Observer.
Sure, our local restaurants and gyms have not landed on the Oregon Health Authority’s weekly report that includes information on workplace outbreaks. That also has been the situation statewide.
But that’s no excuse to disregard the freeze. Union County saw in June what can happen when a local church puts itself above the rest of the community, leading to a raging increase in COVID-19 cases. That’s not the kind of thing we want to see happen again.
The county’s case count in the last two weeks has been on a steep increase. The freeze is about one thing — stopping that spike here and throughout Oregon.
You can criticize Brown’s freeze for not getting the right mix. For being too harsh. For not happening soon enough. For the lack of federal help to ensure businesses will survive. For a state unemployment system that still is behind in getting people their benefits. Yes, what she proposed is wholly imperfect. But faced with a raging pandemic, it is not wholly unreasonable.
Disregarding the freeze or trying to find a way to run around it is the wrong move. Eastern Oregon lawmakers and county commissioners are pushing to have Brown revise her one-size-fits-all approach (you also can read about that on the front page). That effort becomes a larger river to cross each time a business owner or manager in rural Oregon thumbs their nose at actions to stop the spread of COVID-19.