Gov. Kate Brown and more than two dozen mayors from across the state delivered an urgent message this morning for all Oregonians as we approach the unofficial kickoff to summer: Keep your Memorial Day weekend activities close to home.
Brown and 26 mayors, most of them from towns that are typical tourist destinations, all but begged Portlanders to refrain from flooding into reopened counties during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"If you love the coast, stay home for now and plan your trip in the summer," the officials wrote. "If you love the Columbia Gorge, keep it local this weekend and visit later on. If you love Central Oregon, it'll still be there in a few weeks."
Every city whose mayor issued the plea has now been approved to loosen restrictions on bars, restaurants, beauty salons and gyms as part of the governor's first phase of reopening. That presents a temptation for Portlanders whose local businesses are still closed.
Leaders warn that visitors flooding those communities could ignite new outbreaks of COVID-19 just as they begin to get back on their feet.
"Be good neighbors this weekend––stay local and stay safe," they write.
The three-day weekend is normally a popular time for people to get out of the house and travel to outdoor attractions or attend events––everything from boat races to special tastings in wine country.
The news release was signed by 26 mayors from cities both large and small, including communities on the coast and in the Gorge, Willamette Valley, and Central and Southern Oregon. No elected leaders from the eastern part of the state were named in the letter—few places east of Bend are tourist destinations.
WW ran dispatches from reporters at the coast, Eugene and Bend last weekend. Those places weren't overwhelmed, but they were already experiencing tensions from dealing with tourists.