HOOD RIVER, Ore. (KOIN) — The City of Hood River, in response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, ordered all tourism lodging to stop until at least April 14.
Last week, the town saw a number of tourists flock to the Columbia River Gorge for outdoor recreation. Mayor Kate McBride issued an executive order that restricts recreational visitors from coming to and staying in Hood River. The restrictions affect hotels, motels, short-term vacation rentals, home shares, bed-and-breakfasts, RV parks and campgrounds in the city.
“Don’t come to Hood River unless you are coming to help us with the COVID-19 issue,” said McBride.
City leaders took these steps not only to comply with Govern Kate Brown’s “stay home” order, but also because people were not practicing social distancing while recreating in the Gorge.
“We banned stays in hood river basically associated with recreational tourism,” said McBride. “That’s really whats it’s all about: we are trying to contain and mitigate COVID-19 here. So, we don’t want additional people putting a burden on our hotels with the contagion or the possibility of more people traveling.”
Even day-trippers are discouraged from coming to visit. The US Forest Service has closed virtually all trails, viewpoints, waterfalls and developed recreation sites in the area. Informal trails are closed as well.
“It’s not just you can’t go on a formal or developed trail — you can’t go on those lands at all,” said Rachel Powlitz, spokesperson for the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. “We are very interspersed with state and public lands here within the national scenic boundary, so that type of closure made more sense for us.”
Officials said this wasn’t an easy decision, especially at a time when many people are looking to escape outdoors.
“We feel like it was the right one to make and we want to be in alignment with the two governors orders on both sides of the river to stay home right now,” said Powlitz. “We still think outdoor recreation is a great way to get a stress relief — we just encourage you to get more backyard and local neighborhood adventures right now.”
There are a few exceptions to the new order. People who are currently registered as a guest who will stay for a minimum of 30 consecutive days, essential personnel where lodging is necessary, those deemed vulnerable and others authorized by the Hood River County Health Department.
The city’s restriction on lodging will last until April 4, but still has the possibility of being extended. Forest land will be closed until further notice.
Anyone with questions can contact the City of Hood River at 541.386.1488.
Hood River COVID-19 information: GetReadyGorge.com
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