Beaverton mayor: No tickets or jail, yet, to enforce state stay-at-home order
Beaverton Mayor Denny Doyle says he does not plan for city police to issue tickets or jail people — yet — to enforce Gov. Kate Brown's order limiting the movement of people to slow the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus.
The latest order issued Monday further limits the types of businesses, such as personal care, that must shut down to avert close personal contact. Exempt from the ban are groceries, pharmacies, gasoline stations and others — including restaurants offering takeout and delivery services — that can enforce social distancing of 6 feet without interrupting operations.
Public and private gatherings outside a home are curtailed, although there is an exception for members within a household.
Doyle was among the 25 Portland metro area mayors Saturday who urged Brown to issue a stay-at-home order and go beyond her stance at a Friday night news conference. Brown's latest order fulfilled most of what they sought.
"I have already given orders to our police chief that when they see something during the first week or so, officers are to just say knock it off," Doyle said Monday. "After that, we will see how that goes and whether behavior changes. I do not want to have this turn into writing a ticket for having a public gathering."
Violations are considered an endangerment of public health, a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a maximum fine of $1,250 or 30 days in jail.
The City Council is scheduled to meet Tuesday night, but Doyle — who presides but votes only if there is a tie — said all of the councilors are likely to take part by telephone. The only agenda items are to advance ordinances already in the pipeline.
Doyle spoke after the city and Beaverton Area Chamber of Commerce conducted a webinar to inform businesses about the latest announcements and availability of aid.
The city and chamber made $250,000 available from city funds to help restaurants and bars affected by a March 16 order from the governor to end in-premises service and limit them to takeout and delivery. Aid was limited to in-city businesses, with the appropriate city license, of 50 or fewer employees and are not part of national chains.
According to Mike Williams, the city's economic development manager, 90 businesses appear to have qualified for grants averaging $2,100 to help them toward their lease and mortgage payments. The total is $189,000. Williams said requests totaled $667,000.
Though the governor's latest order expands the types of businesses forced to close, Doyle said in reference to the fund, "we will have to study that."
"This was an important first step," he added. "We are now looking to see what other funding is available and how we can help a greater variety of businesses affected. Our team is looking for anything they can send our way to help more businesses stay open and hold on to their leased space, and also for the people who own those buildings and have mortgage payments."
He and Williams said it is more likely that additional aid will have to await action by Congress. The U.S. Small Business Administration, under a disaster declaration for Oregon, is making available loans at 3.75% for qualifying small businesses and 2.75% for nonprofits. But Williams said it's up to Congress, which can turn to the federal Treasury to furnish more help for individuals and businesses.
"We may add to that pot," Doyle said. "But we are taking it day by day."
Doyle said afterward that the city did not require anything else at the moment.
Dianne Danowski Smith, who runs the public relations firm Publix Northwest, said businesses should communicate openly and frequently with their employees — who should hear about changes directly from employers through internal networks, not social media.
Businesses also heard advice from insurance and property management spokesmen.
Stephen Smelley of Goldfinch Consulting in Beaverton restated a point he made Friday during an interview with Pamplin Media Group: Most insurance against losses from business interruptions does not cover pandemics such as the current outbreak. State or federal lawmakers could change that, although Smelley said he hopes businesses will get aid in some other way.
"But do not hesitate to turn in a claim, even though you think it's going to be denied," said Smelley, the immediate past president of the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of Oregon.
"If they turn around and redefine coverage in some form, there are also reporting provisions in terms of timelines. If you didn't turn in a claim timely, you could be denied."
Dan Hayes, president of Real Property Management Solutions in Beaverton, said the current moratoriums against residential evictions do not apply to commercial property. But he said businesses should work with their landlords, pay what they can, and document their losses. He said most landlords are not interested in pursuing immediate evictions, which the courts have made a low priority during the emergency.
"It is more expensive if you leave than if you stay," he said.
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