CLACKAMAS COUNTY, Ore. (KOIN) — A large, two-day event held just outside Canby that government agencies said appears to have violated Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s stay at home order may have skirted punishment, with no individual agency taking responsibility for enforcement.
Pat’s Acres Racing Complex held a COVID 500 race Saturday and Sunday. The event description on Facebook billed it as “a fun race for everyone to enjoy as we have all been locked away in our homes. The only goal of this event it (sic) to get everyone back on the racetrack and enjoying the sport we love.”
A few days before the COVID 500, the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) told KOIN 6 News it “seems” like this event would violate Brown’s stay at home order. At the time, the agency did not elaborate on that statement.
Clackamas County remains one of the few Oregon counties to not start Phase 1 reopening on May 15 as the state begins to slowly emerge from the stay at home order, which was issued in March to protect Oregonians as the novel coronavirus pandemic swept through the United States. The order carries a Class C misdemeanor penalty, which means violators could spend up to 30 days in jail, receive a fine of up to $1,250, or both.
At 9:30 a.m. Saturday, there were more than 50 cars parked outside the ticket office. Some vehicles drove past the office and out of sight. KOIN 6 News was not allowed inside the event; organizers said only family of racers could come in to take photos.
Sunday, the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office said it had no plans to contact the racing complex and that all questions and concerns regarding violations of the governor’s order are being referred to Clackamas County Environmental Health and/or OSHA.
“Deputies will only take enforcement action in extreme circumstances and only if necessary,” public information officer Marcus Mendoza wrote in an email.
Mendoza also told KOIN 6 News “these issues are being referred to OSHA and Environmental Health for education, compliance and enforcement if needed. … The Pat’s Acres issue specifically has been referred for education and compliance.”
Monday, though, a spokesperson for OSHA told KOIN 6 News in an email, “This is not something we’d be likely to address because, for the most part, the issues appear to involve members of the general public, which is outside of our legal authority.”
In short, because the presumed violations are coming from spectators and participants, not necessarily staff, OSHA may not be able to get involved.
Meanwhile, KOIN 6 News has left multiple messages with Clackamas County Environmental Health officials, but did not hear back by deadline. We will update this story when we hear from them.
KOIN 6 News did manage to connect with the county’s acting public information officer. Bringing the story full circle, he said he believed the sheriff’s office would be the correct agency to contact.