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Letter signed by city mayor and county judge requests local businesses get same leeway as school districts

CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Letter signed by city mayor and county judge requests local businesses get same leeway as school districts.

Crook County and City of Prineville leaders have officially requested that Gov. Kate Brown relax restrictions that have closed numerous local businesses.

In a letter signed by Prineville Mayor Jason Beebe and Crook County Judge Seth Crawford, officials are asking Brown to "consider allowing our businesses to reopen using the same logic and adaptive thinking you deployed that has allowed our school districts to operate."

Local leaders are requesting that the state allow small businesses in Crook County to reopen "using the same OSHA COVID guidelines in place prior to the most recent lockdown," and to trust those business owners and employees to manage the COVID safety measures with "the same tenacity and hard work that earned them the success they achieved pre-pandemic."

City and county officials acknowledged that "the severity of the COVID pandemic is very real and a tragic health crisis that has claimed the lives of too many of our friends, families and citizens," but went on to stress that the effects of the lockdown have their own dire consequences.

"Today, in the 11th month of the COVID pandemic, many of our local businesses are facing financial ruin," the letter states. "Hundreds of our citizens are without work and are unable to provide for themselves and their families."

Local leaders said that the ongoing funding relief during the pandemic is appreciated but lamented that it is not enough to overcome the impact of ongoing shutdowns, which threaten the survival of local businesses.

Further punctuating their point, officials said it is difficult to watch big box stores in the Central Oregon region continue to operate and thrive "with obvious COVID mitigation infractions" while many local businesses are "denied the same opportunity to survive."

Crawford said that that the letter "calls for the state to give our businesses the ability to use current best practices and their proven problem-solving ability to open to the public in a safe manner."

"We are blessed to live in a community where the city and the county work together and do everything in their power to protect our local businesses," he concluded.

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