Cheyenne signs 1

Joseph’s Cheyenne Restaurant is--or was--a favorite hangout for local cowboys and loggers until it was closed except for takeout on March 17 by Gov. Brown’s orders. Local businesses need to respond quickly to

Gov. Brown’s office today released draft guidelines for a potential Phase 1 opening of some Oregon businesses, including restaurants, retail, and childcare facilities. They also include guidelines for the public, including opening of travel not more than 50 miles from home, except where medically necessary.

“The most important thing,” said Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Vicki Searles, “ is that we need to show we need to comment on these as soon as possible to be sure the final versions are what we can meet. And we need to have good, solid plans in place so we are ready and able to open when Phase 1 opening is possible.”

The drafts are available for comment by businesses, so that final guidelines can better address business needs. The guidelines were obtained by Oregon Business Magazine and forwarded to Wallowa County Chamber of Commerce members. In an email to business organizations, tribes, and agencies, earlier this week, Courtney Crowell of the governor’s office said “In preparation for Phase 1 reopening, we are working to establish sector-specific guidelines to address the public health requirements for social distancing within six sectors – restaurants, retail, transit, childcare, personal services, and outdoor recreation. … can businesses in our region operate in Phase 1 under these guidelines and if not, what do they need in order to operate under these recommendations?”

The guidelines are in draft so that businesses can provide input before they are finalized. Final guidelines may come as early as next week.Brown plans a press conference at 10:30 a.m. Friday to introduce COVID-19 testing and contact tracing plans as part of her guidelines for reopening Oregon. The governor’s office did not respond to requests for further information from the Chieftain.

The extensive list of draft guidelines for restaurants and bars include that tables are spaced so that six feet of distance separates between each person, limiting the number of customers on the premises to 50% of the “normal” occupancy so long as distancing is met, minimizing employee bare-handed contact with food and utensils, and all on-site consumption of food and beverages must end by 10 p.m.

The guidelines include maintaining strict social distancing and potentially recording customers’ IDs in case health officials need to trace who came in contact with someone infected with the coronavirus.

The draft guidelines for retail stores include limiting the number of customers in the store, encourage six-foot distancing, encouraging one-way flow, and using signage to encourage proper distancing.

Childcare guidelines include limiting the number of children in a room, specific staffing rations for different age-groups, and prioritizing care for children of essential workers including first responders, health care workers and others.

Guidelines are also available for comment for outdoor recreation and transit.

Guidelines for the public include staying home if you are sick, practicing social distancing, and staying close to home, including avoiding overnight trips and traveling no farther than 50 miles from home.

Other proposed rules include:

Continued closure of playgrounds, picnic shelters, water parks, pools and other recreational facilities prone to attracting crowds.

No customer self-service operations, such as buffets, salad bars, soda machines and growler refilling stations.

No seating at restaurant bars or counters.

No reusable menus unless they can be cleaned between customers.

No karaoke machines, pool tables or bowling.

Businesses should encourage employees and customers to wear face masks, except when restaurant or bar patrons are seated at a table.

Specific sanitation measures and informational signs would be required at each business.

“Consider keeping a record of name, contact information and date/time of visit for customers/visitors for purposes of contact tracing if needed. Businesses should inform customers/visitors of the reason the information is being collected and how the information will be used,” says a draft of employer guidance posted on the governor’s coronavirus website.

The draft guidelines encourage businesses to consider health checks for employees and customers, such as screening for temperature and respiratory symptoms. Dr. Bob Dannenhoffer, Douglas County public health officer, said that optional approach strikes the appropriate balance.

The draft guidelines allow people to choose to congregate in groups no larger than 10. Whether in a restaurant, on a trail or at the beach, six feet of social distancing would be required between groups but not within the same group.

For copies of the draft guidelines, or to comment, contact Vicki Searles, at 541-426-4622 or Vicki@wallowacounty.org. Business plans and suggestions for reopening should be sent to Wallowa County Commissioner Susan Roberts as soon as possible at sroberts@co.wallowa.or.us

This story has been updated with additional information fro Dick Hughes who writes for EOMedia Group and the Oregon Capital Bureau

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