State Reps. Mark Owens, R-Crane, and Daniel Bonham, R-The Dalles, and state Sen. Lynn Findley, R-Vale, talked about the fallout from Gov. Kate Brown’s three-phase plan to open businesses during a virtual town hall hosted by Findley on May 7.
While Oregon may soon begin to reopen, the legislators agreed that this does not mean things are going back to normal. Findley said, while counties have submitted plans for reopening to the state for approval, Phase 1 still won’t begin until May 15 at the earliest for some counties.
Bonham said hearing the governor’s plan was difficult.
“We’ve been proceeding down a path to try and meet some Phase 1 guidelines and get people back to work ... and a little bit of that was modified today,” Bonham said. “Goal posts were changed, and areas of the state were not reflected in the guidelines. (I) certainly did not anticipate statements of large group activities not happening prior to the end of September.”
Brown announced on May 7 that all large gatherings, such as sporting events and fairs, will not be allowed until the state has access to a vaccine or reliable treatment for COVID-19.
“The Oregon Health Authority is advising that any large gathering of these through September should either be canceled or significantly modified,” Brown said.
Findley pointed out that county fairs would not be available until Phase 3, which is cause for concern.
“Now the governor’s office did say today that they would like to give the ability for counties to figure out how to have their livestock events so youth can raise them and somehow figure out how to show them and sell because most of that money goes to educational purposes,” Findley said. “I asked the governor about the Pendleton Round-Up, and it does not look favorable.”
Owens said all of the counties in House District 60 have submitted their plans for reopening.
Findley said cooperation between state legislators, counties and cities has been one positive result from COVID-19.
“The three of us hold bi-weekly phone calls with all the county commissioners in Senate District 30,” Findley said. “We have lengthy calls, and everyone speaks and everyone talks. We plot, share information and work on scenarios on how we can move forward.”
Findley noted several times that Phase 1 for reopening will not begin until May 15, and only then for counties whose plans have been approved by the state. Some of the businesses that may reopen are restaurants, bars, select retail stores and salons.