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Bend, Redmond businesses say they will enforce mask mandate

'If I have to be the big bully, then I am. I don’t mind.'

(Update: Adding video, comments from Redmond police, businesses)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Now that Gov. Kate Brown has issued a statewide mandate requiring face coverings in all indoor public spaces, starting Wednesday, some Central Oregon businesses say they will do everything they can to enforce the requirement in their stores.

Letty Lees, the owner of Learning Express Toys in Bend, told NewsChannel 21 Tuesday her business will distribute flyers with information about the CDC guidelines and how masks can help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Her business already has Plexiglas partitions at the cash registers and a sign at the front of the store that says customers are required to wear masks. 

Lees said she hopes if people follow the mandate, it will help keep small businesses like hers open.

“In order for us to keep our business, employees and customers safe, we’re asking them to wear a mask,” Lees said. “We’ll do whatever we need to, and help in any way we can to keep people safe.”

Autumn Persinger, the owner of Ida’s Cupcake Cafe, with two locations in Bend and a newly opened location in Redmond, said her employees will ask customers to leave if they refuse to wear masks.

“We’re encouraging the staff to feel free to tell customers about the new guidelines and make sure they are aware of them,” Persinger said. “That might be difficult, with all the tourists we have in town right now, getting our message across without seeming mean or making people uncomfortable.”

Zachary Bass, director of the Redmond Municipal Airport, said people flying in and out of the airport also will be required to wear masks, with some exceptions.

“There are some exceptions for children under 2 or anyone with a medical condition,” he said. “We also -- if someone forgets a mask, there will be masks available through the airport or the airline or handed out by our employees.”

Kari Stuber, manager of the BrightSide Animal Center Thrift Store in Redmond, said since the store reopened May 15, she has required all employees and customers to wear masks before stepping inside the building.

But she said not everyone has been supportive of her decision.

“We get a lot of odd people in here sometimes, and sometimes people get very violent about it -- and it’s not fun,” Stuber said.

She said most of her volunteers are elderly or considered at high risk for contracting the virus, and she wants to make their safety a priority.

“I’ll continue to make everyone wear a mask, and if I have to be the big bully, then I am,” Stuber said. “I don’t mind.”

She said there have been a couple instances with angry customers where she felt she almost wanted to call the police. 

Gov. Brown did not specify how she plans to enforce the mandate. However, she said the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration will take the lead in making sure it is followed.

Lt. Jesse Petersen with the Redmond Police Department said the role of law enforcement in relation to the governor’s mask mandate is more focused on education rather than enforcement.

“If we do receive complaints from the community, we want them to go ahead and call OSHA or make a complaint online,” Petersen said. “They can also make a complaint through the Deschutes County Health Department.”

"When calls are received to Dispatch regarding people without face coverings, the dispatcher will refer the caller to report the incident to OSHA," Lt. Juli McConkey with the Bend Police Department said in a statement.

McConkey said Bend PD is taking an educational and compliance approach.

"Failure to obey the Governor’s order is a C Misdemeanor," she said. "However, we are hopeful with education our community will abide by the order."

More specific details about Oregon’s statewide mask requirement can be found on the Oregon Health Authority website.

Article Topic Follows: Central Oregon
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Rhea Panela

Rhea Panela is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Rhea here.

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