LANE COUNTY, Ore. -- Beginning Friday, counties in Oregon that fall under the extreme risk level can have limited indoor activities. This was announced by Gov. Brown on Tuesday.
The new rules allow for indoor recreational centers like gyms, movie theaters and museums to have up to six customers in a facility at once if the space is larger than 500 square feet. For spaces smaller than 500 square feet, one employee and one customer are allowed inside at a time.
While this loosens up some of the strict regulations currently in place, business owners expressed their frustration with the metrics.
Catherine and Coty Richardson are co-owners of Fitness 1440. Like many gym owners, they have made all types of changes throughout the pandemic.
“It’s been difficult,” Catherine said. “It's been hard. It's mentally and emotionally draining waiting every two weeks to hear whether it's good news, bad news or no news.”
“It was surprising because we have a 7,500-square-foot facility,” Coty said. “A six-person maximum seems a little ridiculous to be honest. We are happy to hear we can reopen but a little frustrated with the metrics.”
Now, they’re forced to make some tough decisions.
“It's really ridiculous to have all these blanket guidelines for an industry that is so large and so varying. Logically, you'd think if six people is acceptable at 500 square feet, then the more square feet you get, the safer they'd be in,” Catherine said.
Ritual FitCraft owner Mike Welch agrees. He had to move his business online during the pandemic but wants to train clients in-person again if the opportunity arises.
“I find that that’s a really ridiculous number as well,” Welch said. “It’s not really taking science into account when they’re limiting it to six people. And that’s not really a number that’s going to help gyms stay afloat.”
Restaurants must remain closed for indoor dining. But Brown is allowing enclosed outdoor dining pods.
“For us, personally, it's not really worth it,” Ciao Pizza Trattoria chef and owner David Lucht said. “We just don’t really have the outdoor real estate to put up pods. We only have about 7 feet of sidewalk. It’s not going to work for us.”
Some experts say dining pods could create a high-risk environment for the virus to spread. Lucht agrees.
“I question if that's really safer than having people dine inside with medical grade air filters but that's above my pay grade,” Lucht said.
Brown’s new mandates are effective Friday, Jan. 29th. More updates can be found HERE.