A restaurant in Canby opened for dine-in service Friday and Saturday, the Canby Now Podcast has confirmed, in violation of Governor Kate Brown’s orders prohibiting restaurants from offering anything but take-out, curbside pickup and delivery.
Reports came in Saturday morning of there being as many as 15 cars parked at and around the establishment, which the Canby Now Podcast is not naming at this time, and of customers coming and going — none of whom were carrying take-out containers.
Those dining in included more than one Canby elected official, according to independently verified reports from inside the restaurant.
Reached by phone at approximately 11 a.m., the restaurant’s owner told the CNP they were open for take-out only. We expressed the rumors we had heard, along with concerns that they were putting themselves at risk for fines and legal consequences that would only harm their business in the long run.
“Somebody has to take a stand,” the owner said. “If somebody wants to come and start something, so be it. I’ve got a lawyer.”
Canby Police Chief Bret Smith said his office received similar reports to those conveyed to the CNP. Officers were dispatched to investigate the alleged non-compliance, pursuant to previously established Canby PD protocols that were shared internally and with the community earlier this week.
Officers observed that the restaurant was fully open, in violation of the governor’s executive orders. At all times, the owner was polite, professional and cooperative, Smith said. After a brief and cordial interaction, they agreed to close the dining room.
“What we tried to convey was that we really felt it was in their best interests to comply,” Chief Smith said. “We’re concerned about our businesses, and we don’t want to see any of them get in trouble because of non-compliance.”
The chief said he understands the enormous difficulties facing small and independent business owners in the Covid-related economic downturn.
“I feel very sympathetic,” he said. “Our small businesses are really hurting right now. We know they’re not trying to put anybody at risk. They’re just trying to survive.”
The Oregon Liquor Control Commission and other licensing agencies have not taken lightly reports of businesses accused of violating the governor’s executive orders. In late March, new rules were adopted allowing the OLCC to immediately suspend or outright revoke the license of any businesses found to be non-compliant.
The first Oregon establishment to have its license suspended for allegedly defying the governor’s orders was the Sportsman Tavern, a bar in Cave Junction that was accused of being discreetly open for business.
An OLCC inspector visited the premises and observed customers coming and going, and drinks being served at the bar. However, the owner claimed it was only his employees, having a drink and a meal after the close of business that day.
Despite the potential consequences, frustration is growing on the part of small-business owners impacted by the Covid shut-down, as well as some elected officials.
Governor Brown has repeatedly insisted that declining case numbers, sufficient supplies of personal protective equipment, and robust capacity for Covid-19 testing and contact tracing must be in place before any area of the state can explore reopening.
As to timelines, she has been vague, but said on Friday that even the most rural and least affected counties could not even begin the process of reopening until May 15, at the earliest.
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