GRANTS PASS, Ore. – Some local small businesses are re-opening without permission from the Governor’s office.
The “Stay home, save lives” executive order, issued by Governor Brown remains in effect, however non-essential businesses in downtown Grants Pass are beginning to open their doors to customers.
Ann and Shan’s on SW 6th St. in Grants Pass re-opened yesterday. The store hours have been adjusted and precautions have been taken to ensure shoppers feel safe, according to co-owner, Shannon Holder.
“We’ve taken our precautions, we’ve got the plexiglass divider coming in, we’ve taped off the floors, we’ve got the hand sanitizer,” said Holder, “we could do it curbside still if you feel more comfortable that way.”
Holder says she understands why the executive order was put into place but businesses can no longer wait for a re-opening by the state.
“I think it was good and we’ve done our part but it’s ready to open,” said Holder, “I think we’re pretty safe. I know there’s a lot of controversy over that but it may never go away; it’s just one of those things, we can’t stay cooped up in our homes, we have to be able to get out and live life.”
Holder says she’s spoken with city and county officials and have their support.
“We’ve talked with many city officials and county officials, they’re supportive of it and they’re just saying to do what we can to take all the precautions and keep everything clean,” said Holder.
Violating the governor’s orders under the current state of emergency is a Class C misdemeanor, for which the penalty is up to 30 days in jail, a fine of up to $1,250, or both. This applies to business owners and their patrons. However, local law enforcement’s focus throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has been to educate citizens.
Grants Pass Department of Public Safety says they do not plan to cite businesses or make any arrests.
“Within the executive order we do have the authority to issue a citation and or make an arrest,” said Chief Warren Hensman, “that is the furthest thing that we want to do right now. In fact, it’s not on our radar at all.”
Chief Hensman says he has directed officers to coach, guide and provide education to social distancing violations.
“If we receive complaints about businesses opening, we will respond like any other call for service,” said Hensman, “depending on the business we will pass that information on to the state agency and in this case, it would be the Oregon Health Authority.”
The Mayor of the City of Grants Pass says he’s been made aware, only recently, that there are business owners looking at reopening while the Governor’s executive order is in place. According to Mayor Roy Lindsay, as long as citizens are maintaining social distancing practices, he doesn’t see an issue with businesses reopening.
“It’s been 7-8 weeks since we’ve been shut down. That’s a terrific burden on everybody,” said Lindsay, “I mean, when your livelihood is threatened, you’re going to start doing things to correct that situation; that’s human nature, that’s understandable but please do it safely and do it harmoniously.”