‘Can’t keep shutting down’: Return to High Risk hurts

Coronavirus

Multnomah, Clackamas counties go back to High Risk on Friday

MILWAUKIE, Ore. (KOIN) — Business was just starting to pick up at Casa de Tamales in downtown Milwaukie. But on Friday, seating at restaurants and bars in Clackamas and Multnomah counties drops from 50% to 25% as the counties are once again categorized as High Risk for the coronavirus.

“I don’t know how much longer many of us can continue with this,” said Charles Maes with Casa de Tamales. “Right at the present time I can seat about 25 people. Once it goes down I’m going to only be able to fit about 12 people. So that’s going to make a big difference.”

Noel Fuller of Foster Fitness in Southeast Portland, April 6, 2021 (KOIN)

Noel Fuller, who runs Foster Fitness Center in Southeast Portland, was more blunt.

“This is a bunch of crap,” Fuller said. “We voted these people in to fix complex problems, not become more of a problem.”

Even though a county in High Risk allows gyms to operate at 25% occupancy, Fuller said that’s not cost effective. That level of occupancy won’t even keep his lights on, he said, and added he used his stimulus check to pay his gym’s electric bill.

“We just opened back up,” he said. “I’ve got to tell all my members we’ve got to shut down Friday.”

The setback for Fuller comes in the middle of a membership drive, which he said is a wasted expensive investment.

Inside Foster Fitness in Southeast Portland, April 6, 2021 (KOIN)

“The money I paid to do the membership drive because I thought we were back open, wasted. The advertising dollars, wasted.”

He believes Gov. Kate Brown’s decision is not a solution but rather one that will create enormous problems for countless families like his own.

“You can’t just keep shutting down businesses,” Fuller said. “We can only put up with this for so long. Pretty soon people are just going to go, ‘No, we’re not shutting down.’ You know, we have kids to feed.”

Maes agrees with that.

Charles Maes of Casa de Tamales in Milwaukie, April 6, 2021 (KOIN)

“I think that she needs to be thinking about us businesses, what we are going to do, because it’s hurting all business. We get open, now we step back again,” he said. “I’ll work with whatever we have to do but I’m sad that it’s going back.”

He also tried to take a broad and long view.

“I think us Oregonians need to be working together,” Maes told KOIN 6 News. “I think we all need to be getting our shots, wearing our masks, and staying our distance. We need to be staying so that we can open up fulltime.”

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