Every morning, we, like so many others, wake up and wonder, "what's going to change today?" What new guidelines will we fall under? Will today be the day a loved one gets sick? Will it be a day when the virus trends move downward?
- Another Believer / Wikimedia Commons
We, like so many others, know that we are not in control of this situation—but that our actions, collectively, as a society, can have an impact. We believe the public health experts in our community, who have far more training in epidemiology and health care than we do, when they set forth guidelines intended to help the community stay safe and move through this pandemic as quickly as possible, with the lowest-possible loss of life.
Every morning we wake up, wondering with some frustration what new guidelines will be in place—but you can be sure we are taking those guidelines to heart.
Under current guidelines, gatherings of 100 people or fewer can still occur. It is under those guidelines that places such as the Tower Theatre continue to press onward with indoor events, bringing a much-needed dose of culture and connection to downtown Bend. Drive-in movie events and farmers markets, taking place outdoors, also add to a sense of connection that, while somewhat intangible, bring a sense of a life well-lived to community members.
It is in this context that we have to ponder the decision by some local, public entities to continue to restrict access and events at public facilities—even when certain events fall under the guidelines set forth by the governor and the public health experts who work with her.
In a story last week, we detailed the experience of one local theatre producer, who, hoping to stage a production in Bend's Drake Park, received a hard "no" on her plan. The producer told the Source that the plan met all the current guidelines, but Bend Park and Recreation District Business Manager Michael Egging told the Source for that article that, "avoiding large gatherings is the safest option and the fastest way for our community at large to get back to normal."
Businesses and individuals—at least, those who care to abide by a social contract that respects the rule of law and others' health—are looking to the guidelines from the governor as the last word on what we can do and how we can do it during this uncertain time. So if the governor's guidance still allows for gatherings of up to 100 people, it is not up to other entities—and especially ones owned by the public—to create a new playbook for us to follow. Our public facilities should follow the governor's guidance, but they should not be able to play epidemiologist or public health expert and impose stricter restrictions than are already being imposed upon the people who pay the taxes that cause them to exist.
To make the matter only more ironic, tourists continue to flood some of those same public facilities, largely unaccountable, unmasked and grouped up in large numbers. By all appearances, our public agencies appear willing to tiptoe around the tourists, while making it unnecessarily harder for locals to conduct business.
The governor's guidance is enough. When it comes to the use of our publicly funded facilities, we don't need other public entities creating a new playbook.