PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The town of Sandy’s mayor announced his intentions to not only defy state-mandated COVID-19 restrictions, but is backing a coalition which encourages businesses to do the same.
Mayor Stan Pulliam wrote Oregon Governor Kate Brown an open letter Thursday calling the rules “arbitrary” and said the restrictions have bankrupted family businesses and sent “our neighbors to spiral into depression and anxiety.”
The letter states that on January 1, 2021, members of the coalition in counties labeled “Extreme Risk” will voluntary comply with the less restrictive “High Risk” measures, which will allow restaurants and gyms to open at a significantly reduced capacity. The letter went on to state those in the coalition will “follow with one level below the state mandate until the risk levels change to reflect our compromise.”
Pulliam told KOIN 6 News he sees what he calls “double standards” when it comes to coronavirus restrictions.
“If you look at who is being affected by this, a lot of people are wondering why we can go to the mall and pack in like sardines and support corporate America, but we can’t sit down at our local mom and pop main street businesses and support them,” Pulliam said. “The double standards really need to stop.”
So far, there has not been a reply from Governor Brown, Pulliam said.
KOIN 6 News asked what Pulliam’s reaction would be if the U.S. faced a new strain of the coronavirus that spreads more quickly, which was announced to have occurred in the U.K. Saturday. Prime Minister Boris Johnson was forced to backtrack loosening social gathering restrictions after it was discovered a variant strain of the virus that is more than 70% more transmissible than existing strains was a driving force for the spread in London and southern England.
“I think it’s important that leaders remain nimble and that when new facts and information present themselves, they adjust to those new facts and information,” Pulliam said.
He added that he has yet to see the news about the new strain, but emphasized once again he thinks there should be an end to “double standards” regarding governmental restrictions put in place in response to the virus.
When asked what the reasoning was behind January 1 as an opening date, Pulliam said it had to do with start anew with a new year and leaving 2020 behind. But the January 1 date was also chosen because of the fact that government agencies who might enforce the restrictions may be closed that day.
“My understanding is that OLCC and OSHA and other government agencies are typically closed on January 1, so it does provide our owners a little bit of comfort in knowing that. So yeah, that’s why we’re focusing on January 1 for an opening.”
In Pulliam’s open letter, he used a mouse invading someone’s home as a metaphor for the pandemic to illustrate his point about his desire for an alternative government response.
“If you discover a mouse in your house, you don’t burn it down to solve the problem,” Pulliam said. “You find a way to safely remove the mouse without destroying everything else you value.”