ENTERPRISE — Recent tightening of restrictions on going about in public is not likely to have a great effect on Wallowa County business, most proprietors contacted said, largely because the county rolls up its sidewalks early.
Gov. Kate Brown announced July 22 that beginning Friday, July 24, bars and restaurants would have to close by 10 p.m., a two-hour cut from the previous mandate. Brown also reduced the maximum number of people allowed inside a variety of indoor establishments from 250 to 100.
Brown also ordered that anyone over 5 years old must wear a face mask in public indoor spaces and outdoors where social distancing is not possible. Masks are recommended for those between 2 and 5 years old. Also, gyms must require masks while customers exercise.
“In Wallowa County, it seems like everybody’s sleeping after 9 p.m.,” said Jomarie Pitino, co-owner of the Gold Room in Joseph.
Terminal Gravity Brewery and Pub in Enterprise normally closes at 10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. Other days it is closed or closes at 9 p.m., according to Grady Nelson, TG’s marketing manager.
“I don’t think we’re affected too much,” Nelson said. “We’re really lucky because we have outdoor seating where people can socially distance.”
He said his manager doesn’t plan any changes other than to ensure TG meets the 10 p.m. closure deadline.
“Normally, we let people finish eating beyond 10 p.m. but we may have to adjust that,” he said. “If somebody’s finishing a beer, we don’t kick them out.”
Still, Nelson is concerned about the restrictions and the spread of the virus.
“That said, we’re continuing to take the pandemic seriously and will follow all restrictions and guidelines set by our state and local government,” he said.
Pitino, who co-owns the Gold Room with partner Ross Effinger, said the business usually closes at 9 p.m. But keeping staff in the midst of the pandemic has forced them to cut back to 8 p.m.
“We’ve had a lot of trouble with staffing because of COVID, so we’re running with fewer hours,” she said.
But her restaurant is managing.
“We’re following all the regulations — asking people wear face masks, we do outdoor dining and have restrictions on party size,” she said. “We’re trying to follow all the guidelines and keep operating safely.”
One of the few establishments that does normally have a late closing time is the Rusty Spur. Its website still shows a 2 a.m. closing time, although it’s been closing at midnight since the state ordered it to. Now, the Rusty Spur loses another two hours — and the owner expects to feel it.
“Obviously, a lot,” said Jose Lopez, who owns it with his wife, Angelica Zurita. The couple also own the La Laguna Family Mexican Restaurants in Joseph and Enterprise.
“When it was cut to 12 (midnight), that cut two hours,” Lopez said. “Now it’s cut two hours more.”
But he said they’ll get by.
“There’s nothing we can do but just keep going,” Lopez said. “In a little town like this, we’ve got to understand the change.”
He emphasized that the family establishments are trying to serve the public safely and legally, as well as provide incomes for their employees.
“Our community … this town, we’re having hard times and we just try to survive,” he said. “You can’t lose your hope. You just keep alive and give your employees as many hours as possible.”
All contacted were appreciative of the support of the business community by the community at large.
“Things are going good,” Pitino said. “Now with the tourist season, we’re expanding. People are being respectful of the rules so it’s going great for us.”