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Friday, February 26, 2021

Gov. Brown’s second Executive Order forces more business closures

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Several local businesses that were open Monday the 23rd learned that they would be closed on Tuesday.

Governor Kate Brown was not happy that Oregonians ignored her orders to stay home and not socialize in groups over the weekend.

Brown had established guidelines that would help to flatten the curve of COVID-19 infection rates that are climbing in Oregon by ordering the public to practice social distancing.

Those orders went by the wayside for many Oregonians, who were lured out last weekend by sunshine and warm weather.

Spray resident Candy Humphreys remarked on the Governor’s Facebook page that “We are a little town of 160 people in eastern Oregon and the out of area people and traffic was amazing all weekend. No lower than any weekend before spring break.” 

Pressured by mayors in the valley, Gov. Brown upped the ante and put limitations on several additional businesses starting March 24.

Governor Brown’s executive order closes salons and barber shops, malls, gyms and theaters among other things. The Governor did not put a timetable on the closures.

Several local businesses were directly impacted by the order.

Jennifer Day has been in the salon industry for 14 years and closed her business to comply with the Governor’s order.

“I had a full calendar,” says Mrs. Day who also cuts hair at a salon in Condon and another in Idaho.

Unlike bars and restaurants that were given a timeline of one month to close or offer takeout, businesses affected by the most recent executive order do not know when they can reopen.

Mrs. Day feels fortunate that her husband is employed at the Condon School but worries about other businesses and workers that are losing income. Mrs. Day says she knows that the pandemic is serious but also worries that the economic impact will be just as devastating.

Across the street from the Sage and Stone Spa is Hotel Condon. Hotel managers Joseph and Jane Cadousteau announced on Monday that they will be closing the hotel until at least May 1.

In a statement on their Instagram page, Hotel Condon said that “…with great regard for the health and safety of our guests, staff, suppliers and local community, Hotel Condon has decided to temporarily close until at least May 1st. We will revisit our reopening date as information and guidance develops from the CDC, WHO, the State of Oregon and the US federal government.”

Hotel Condon has refunded guests who already had rooms booked.

In Mitchell, the Spoke’n Hostel has also closed “for a short time” according to information posted on social media by owners Patrick and Jalet Farrell. The hostel also hosts a barber shop, which is directly impacted by the executive order.

Although the lodging industry has not been ordered to close by the State of Oregon, several hotels and motels have opted to do so.

Other businesses that were allowed to remain open, such as retail businesses and restaurants that offer takeout services, must enforce a six-foot separation of customers and staff or face penalties.

The economic impact to area businesses could be catastrophic and the county courts in Gilliam, Sherman and Wheeler counties have begun to look at emergency funding for businesses and workers. On Tuesday, Gilliam County Court Judge Elizabeth Farrar held a conference call with area businesses. Judge Farrar said she is in regular contact with the Governor’s office and with Senator Merkley’s office.

Cities are also working to help residents who may face economic hardships. On Monday, March 23 the Condon City Council convened an emergency meeting to discuss postponing utility shutoffs in the event that residents are unable to pay. The Council also affirmed that the garbage dump will be free for the time being so that staff do not have to handle money.

Moving forward, the Condon City Council will hold meetings online using video chat and will limit in-person interaction.

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