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‘Total gut punch’: C.O. businesses react to Gov. Brown’s COVID-19 freeze

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Empty tables and stacked chairs will be even more the norm at Central Oregon restaurants, starting next Wednesday.

Stewart Fritchman, the owner of Bellatazza in downtown Bend, said, "It's a two-week pause I don't think anybody in the hospitality industry didn't see coming."

Fritchman told NewsChannel 21 on Friday he understands the need for the new restrictions, instituted by Governor Kate Brown on Friday to help slow the spread of COVID-19, but the timing over Thanksgiving is bad news.

"Having this after a slow summer and now sliding into, here comes the season where we really need it, I think there will be a lot of trouble for quite a few places,” he said.

Steven Draheim, owner and head chef at Barrio Restaurant, echoed those concerns and added, "As far as the timing goes, what do you do?"

While he said the news on Friday was tough to hear, it's far from the first time he's faced adversity this challenging year.

"We've had challenges all summer, COVID-related, (wildfire) smoke,” Draheim said. “It's like, you've just got to try to stay strong, be nimble."

The new order is also going to force all of Oregon's gyms to shut down, and that doesn't exactly sit well with Sisters Athletic Club owner Tate Metcalf.

"Total gut punch,” he said. “Health clubs and high-quality clubs like ours are not the cause of this situation."

He said his gym has had more than 20,000 visits since reopening, and not one case attributed to it. Now, he's worried about the lack of financial help.

"I just got the PPP (COVID-19 relief assistance) in March -- well that was 2 1/2 months of payroll,” Metcalf said. “Well, we're well beyond 2 1/2 months."

Also part of the new order: Private gatherings are limited to just six people, inside or out.

Gov. Kate Brown said at a press conference, "I am not asking you, I am telling you to stop your social gatherings."

Anyone caught violating the order could face a Class C misdemeanor, which carries a fine up to $1250.

The order will run from Nov. 18 through Dec 2.

"At least as of now,” Draheim said. “And if we can get ahead of this, and not get to a point that other states and other parts of the country are, we'll feel better."

Article Topic Follows: Coronavirus
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Jack Hirsh

Jack Hirsh is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Jack here.

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