Commissioners two week freeze

Lake County Commissioners Mark Albertson, l-r, James Williams and Brad Winters discuss the recent order from Gov. Brown shutting down the state for two weeks and the potential impacts on County government.

Following a statewide mandate from Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, Lake County will enter a “two-week freeze” on Wednesday, Nov. 18, which is set to conclude Wednesday, Dec. 2. The freeze is meant to slow the spread of COVID, cases of which have risen significantly in the state in recent weeks. Restaurants will once again be limited to take-out and delivery during the freeze, gyms will be closed, and churches will be limited to 25 people indoors or 50 people outdoors. Citizens are told to limit indoor and outdoor social gatherings to no more than six people from no more than two households. Visitation at long-term care facilities will be prohibited.

Grocery stores, pharmacies and retail stores will be limited to a maximum of 75% capacity and are encouraged to implement curbside pickup.

The freeze also requires businesses to mandate that employees work from home to the greatest extent possible.

“The virus is spreading in the community and, every day, it is infecting more and more Oregonians. This situation is dangerous and our hospitals have been sounding the alarms. If we want to give Oregon a fighting chance, we must take further measures to flatten the curve and save lives. I know this is hard, and we are weary. But, we are trying to stop this ferocious virus from quickly spreading far and wide. And in Oregon, we actually can do this,” Brown said in a statement.

The freeze does not change current guidelines for personal services like barber shops and hair salons, outdoor recreation and sports, youth programs, childcare, or K-12 schools. All can continue operating under previous guidance issued by the Oregon Health Authority.

Brown has also asked that Oregonians wear a mask at all times when indoors and outdoors, except when eating or drinking.

After the two weeks, Brown said, “We will reassess what progress we’ve made and what measures may still be necessary.” She added that some COVID hotspot counties will likely need to stay in the freeze for “much longer than two weeks.” Multnomah County will be in the freeze for at least four weeks.

On Monday, Nov. 16, the Lake County Board of Commissioners held a special session to discuss the recent announcement from Brown and its impacts on County government operations.

Lake County Commissioner Brad Winters said that Brown had not released an executive order, though one was expected Tuesday, Nov. 17. Without the text of the order, Winters said it was difficult to say what affect the freeze would have on the Lake County Courthouse.

Lake County Sheriff Mike Taylor said he believes that the order will be unconstitutional and he does not plan to enforce it. He said the Oregon State Police do not plan to enforce the mandates from Brown either.

“I can’t do this anymore. I can’t let the government dictate our lives to us and whether we are allowed to go to work or not. I will not support the Governor,” said Lake County Commissioner Mark Albertson.

All three Commissioners agreed that without the actual language of the order from the Governor’s Office, there is uncertainty on which direction they will take on County operations. Winters said that many commissioners across the state have been pushing back after Brown made her announcement, which he hopes might lead to some changes rather than a one-size-fits-all policy.

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