Chambers to Governor: Let Counties Reopen at their Own Pace

More than a dozen local chambers of commerce, including those of Canby, Wilsonville, Molalla and Oregon City, have joined elected officials in pressing Governor Kate Brown to reverse her decision yoking Clackamas County to its larger Portland metro area neighbors for future reopening decisions.

The letter, signed by chambers in both Clackamas and Washington counties, say Brown’s recent and unexpected decision to treat the tri-county area as a single unit has left thousands of businesses in the lurch.

“Many have been preparing to enter Phase II and the sudden rule change leaves them with wasted staffing and inventory expenses that may result in more lost jobs and more families struggling for survival,” the letter says.

Click to access Dear-Governor-Brown.pdf

Clackamas and Washington counties, which were both approved for phase 1 reopening weeks ahead of Multnomah, have vast rural areas, small towns and, in general, a much lower density of residents, businesses and services.

“We urge you to change this decision immediately and allow Washington and Clackamas counties to continue through the process autonomously,” the chambers pleaded. “Our communities are financially collapsing under the weight of COVID-19, and they each deserve the opportunity to return to normal as quickly as possible.”

The coronavirus safety protocols that have been imposed on different sectors of the economy are “stringent, yet manageable,” the chambers said, including the recently announced face mask mandate, which they promised to help promote and encourage adherence to.

The progression through the governor’s phased reopening process should be based on each individual county’s unique composition and success in meeting the gating criteria, the chambers argued.

“Holding any part of the region back so that others might ‘catch up’ is detrimental to all of us,” they said.

Canby Area Chamber of Commerce Director Kyle Lang speaks before the mayor’s 2020 State of the City address in February.

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