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Bend City Council Takes Local COVID-19 Actions

To help limit the spread of COVID-19 in Bend, the City Council took actions at a special meeting Thursday morning that: allowed local civil enforcement of statewide guidance on face coverings, directed staff to develop operational regulations for lodging facilities, and requested City staff work with other agencies for help with education and enforcement of the state’s guidelines.

Councilors voted 4-3 to allow Bend Police or Code Enforcement to enforce state guidance about face coverings as civil infractions. City Police or Code Enforcement could issue fines of $100 for first violations, $250 for the second and $500 for the third violation. The order would be in place until the state’s face coverings order is lifted or until Deschutes County is Phase 3 of the Governor’s reopening plan.

“This is giving Code Enforcement and Public Safety officers one more tool in the toolbox when people refuse to wear face coverings and other people’s health and safety is threatened,” said Mayor Sally Russell.

The intention is that the enforcement, like most City Code Enforcement, is primarily complaint-driven. But Councilors agreed to allow enforcement to address “hot spots” of problematic areas, such as popular river access points.

Councilors then directed the City Manager to work with the Bend Park and Recreation District and other agencies on education and enforcement of the state’s COVID-19 safety guidelines.

Councilors voted 4-3 to have staff develop regulations on lodging facilities operations that aim to protect public health. Regulations could include things such as requiring a “down period” of time between parties, (such as 24 or 48 hours), requirements to notify guests of mask and social distancing measures, confirmation of no positive COVID-19 tests within 14 days or persons with symptoms, adequate PPE for housecleaning employees, maintenance of guest log for contact tracing, and more. Council can ratify the regulations at an August meeting.

The Council on Thursday ratified an administrative order from the City Manager that discourages travel to Bend through Labor Day. (Read more here. Here is the order.) However, Councilors did not pursue any potential quarantine requirements at this time, citing recent comments from the Oregon Governor Kate Brown about potential additional travel restrictions in the future.

“We understand the concern and fear in our community surrounding this pandemic, and the Council is working to balance different needs during this challenging time. Our community is struggling to stay safe and healthy, and I believe the actions we’ve taken today will help,” said Russell.

Council intended to have a conversation about a “last call” or early closure of bars on its Thursday meeting agenda, but Governor Kate Brown on Wednesday preempted that when she announced new statewide requirements for closing businesses early and wearing face coverings. Here’s the Governor’s announcement. New statewide guidance effective July 24 requires restaurants and bars statewide to stop serving customers by 10 p.m., regardless of phase of reopening. State requirements can be found at www.coronavirus.oregon.gov .

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