Changes to the rules are happening so quickly with the current health crisis caused by the novel coronavirus, many people are confused about what is still allowed and what’s not. The confusion continues to grow after Gov. Kate Brown’s most recent Executive Order No. 20-12 issued on Monday, March 23.
“I started by asking Oregonians to stay home and practice social distancing,” the press release announcing the order said. “Then I urged the public to follow these recommendations. Instead, thousands crowded the beaches of our coastal communities, our trails, our parks, our city streets, potentially spreading COVID-19 and endangering the lives of others across the state. Now I’m ordering it. To save lives and protect our community.”
At a press conference on Monday afternoon, Brown was clear about the intent of the new order. It limits travel to “home, work, the doctor and essentials,” she said. Since the order came down, more people than ever are asking about what’s still allowed and what’s not. Lots of misinformation is being spread, and in some cases harming the community’s ability to respond.
The order doesn’t close all businesses. Some businesses are deemed essential, such as grocery stores, pharmacies, health services, hardware stores, auto parts, gas stations, auto repair shops, animal feed stores, communications businesses and media like newspapers and radio.
Before the recent order, businesses affected the most were restaurants, bars, taverns, brewpubs, wine bars and coffee shops. They have been limited since March 17 to having no onsite consumption and providing only takeout, curbside or delivery. That’s still true, with no changes.
For a partial list of take-out and delivery restaurants open in this area, see the display ad in this paper for what’s available. If you are tired of eating your cooking, now’s a good time to call up your favorites for take-out or delivery. Treat yourself and take it out of the box and serve it up like it was at the restaurant to make it even more special. Linens are optional.
Brown’s order is not as prohibitive or restrictive as orders in other states.
“If a business isn’t specifically listed in the order, you can stay open if you can maintain social distancing,” Brown said. “If they are not following the rules and complying, we will shut them down.”
The extensive list of new business closures has fewer impacts for Curry County than in larger metropolitan areas, but they still hurt all the same. If you were thinking of getting a haircut, hair salon treatment, or your nails done, those are now do-it-yourself projects. Either that, or we are all going to look a little rough in another month or so.
The tanning salon is now in your backyard, so long as the weather cooperates. That spa visit to help you relax from your viral anxiety is not on the horizon until the governor lifts the order. That tattoo or piercing you may have been thinking about getting? You will need to think about it awhile longer. Jewelry shops and boutiques are closed except where goods are provided through pick-up or delivery service. Art galleries can only be open by appointment.
The new furniture you were planning on getting with your tax refund is on hold, too. Furniture stores are closed, but federal tax filing deadlines have been moved to July 15, so there’s plenty of time to do both. The state tax deadline is still to be determined.
No more meetings at Elks and Moose lodges or similar, or anything at senior activity centers. No theaters, yoga studios, gyms and fitness studios, tennis clubs, dance studios, jumping gyms, arcades, laser tag or youth clubs. Add museums to the libraries that are already only offering curbside and telephone services.
The good news is that Curry County doesn’t have cosmetic stores, bowling alleys, skating rinks, ski resorts, hookah bars or an aquarium because they would be closed, too. Indoor and outdoor malls are closed, except for food, grocery, health care, medical, pharmacy or pet store services. Yes, Fido does get to have treats and toys.
Other businesses not specifically listed can continue to operate so long as they maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet. Businesses in this category can operate by offering curbside pickup of merchandise. Otherwise, they must have an employee who enforces social distancing policies.
Law enforcement, state, city and county governments are operating, but many are choosing not to provide lobby or open office hours, with contact instead through phone, email and payments in drop boxes. Call before going to their offices.
THE GREAT OUTDOORS
With recreational shopping being mostly off limits, perhaps getting out into the great outdoors is your next big idea of what to do, especially with the kids being around until at least the end of April. You could walk the dog, entertain the kids, get your exercise workout in since the gym is closed — all at the same time. It seems like a simple solution, but state, county and city parks are closing faster than a dog getting off his leash. So far, it’s not banned — at least not everywhere. And keep your social distance because more restrictions can be enacted.
Walking, jogging and bicycling are encouraged. Team sports are not — no shooting hoops at the public parks.
State parks: Oregon State Parks closed all its campgrounds and day-use areas on March 23 when the Governor’s executive order came out. The park closures include parking areas, restrooms, picnic areas, trails, viewpoints and all other facilities. This closure will last at least until May 8. They will decide before then whether it's time to re-open.
The park service recommends: “Go out if it's important. Take a walk around your neighborhood where it's easier to avoid clumping up, if that's what you need. Please do not travel to any popular recreation hotspot. You might think, ‘Well, if everyone else stays home, that means I can go.’ This works only if we all do our part.”
Beaches: What about beaches? The state parks' decision doesn’t currently affect the ocean shore, but it does close all state park-managed parking lots and beach accesses. Local authorities can close the beaches temporarily for health reasons. If people don’t get the message that clumping up and overwhelming local areas is a bad idea, they will have to revisit the decision to leave all beaches open. The parking lot at Sporthaven Beach is still open but could be closed if people don’t practice social distancing.
County parks: Curry County doesn’t have a lot of parks. The campers at Boice Cope Park near Floras Lake aren’t allowing any new check-ins but as of Monday were allowing those who made reservations to stay until the end of their reservation. However, private and public campgrounds have been ordered to close down but it does not extend to RV parks or other housing.
City parks: Brown’s executive order closes all pools, skate parks, outdoor sports courts and playground equipment areas. Public recreational areas require signs posted at all entrances and exits and in prominent areas that state social distancing is required. Restrooms must have trash cans and soap and water or hand sanitizer. That said, Gold Beach’s Buffington Park is completely closed, including trails and disc golf, not just the tennis courts and playground equipment.
Brookings has closed the skate park, all playgrounds, sporting facilities, and park public restrooms. Azalea Park KidTown and ballfields, Easy Manor Park, the Skate Park, Bud Cross sports fields, basketball and tennis courts and Chetco Point Park will be among those closed. Barricades block access to the parking areas and restroom facilities will be closed. But in a Facebook live-stream on March 24, Brookings Mayor Jake Pieper clarified the park rules despite barriers up across parking lot entrances. “Azalea Park itself isn’t actually closed,” he said. “Go ahead and walk your dog. Don’t be afraid to use our parks.”
Campgrounds: All private and public campgrounds were closed immediately by the governor’s order, but the closure does not extend to RV parks and other housing. “Riverside RV Resort on the North Bank Chetco River Road is closed to everyone except our full-time, monthly tenants who are sheltering in place,” said Debbie Newsome. “We made the decision to close the resort just before the Governor’s order came out. We want to keep all of our long-term residents safe, and are not taking any new reservations for now.”
Golf: Yes, Salmon Run Golf Course is open. Remember though, social distancing.
Fishing: Yes, you can go fishing. However, a commercial fisherman tossing a lure out on the Chetco River is laid off because the crab market now is slow since most of the sales are “live markets” for restaurants across the West Coast. Port of Brookings Harbor has closed the fishing platforms at the port but the boat ramps are open in Brookings and Gold Beach.
In her press conference on Monday, Brown said that she tried to implement rules that would apply across the state. However, people are misinterpreting the new rules.
Essential workers: A visiting nurse called The Pilot because the RV park where she’s staying is forcing her to move — even though she’s a healthcare worker and the RV park is considered housing that is exempt from camping closures. The RV park may want to rethink that decision.
Most truckers who deliver to our remote area need to stay overnight somewhere. Truck drivers need lodging and meals, so if we ever want to see toilet paper again, we are pretty sure businesses will accommodate them.
Hanging out: Many people still think it’s OK to go hang out with friends. It’s not, because nonessential social and recreational gatherings outside of a home or residence are prohibited, regardless of group size if a distance of at least 6 feet can’t be maintained.
The consequences: Failure to comply with Brown’s order is considered an immediate danger to the public health and subject to a Class C misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 30 days in jail, a fine of up the $1,250, or both. “All Oregon law enforcement are united on the premise that police action is extremely undesirable and we hope to educate Oregonians if congregating in violation of the Governor’s Order,” Says a post by Oregon State Police on Facebook. “Citation or arrest would be an extreme last resort if a person failed to comply with the lawful direction of a police officer.” If you see a violation, law enforcement agencies are asking the public not to call 911, and either self-educate the public or dial the non-emergency number for police.