Good morning Eugene,
There has been slow and steady progress to safely reopen in the last two weeks. Since we entered Phase 1 of Governor Kate Brown’s reopening plan, local businesses are starting to reopen under new circumstances and community members are able to gather in small groups with physical distancing.
Eugene Mayor Lucy Vinis said last week in a speech that working together has helped us get this far, and it will help us continue down a path of progress.
“Please understand that this is a team effort,” Vinis said. “We are all in this together and have a responsibility to one another.”
We are encouraged to see businesses open their closed doors with provisions in place for physical distancing. The return of childcare to our Rec centers and the offering of summer camps is a positive sign, too.
As we return to public places we should be mindful of protocols in place to help limit the spread of COVID-19. We want to thank everyone for being safe over Memorial Day Weekend and also remind people that while businesses and restaurants are starting to open, we aren’t out of the woods yet and it’s only through constant vigilance that we can move toward Phase 2.
An anecdote from a local business owner
Since the beginning of the pandemic the City and its partners have worked closely with local business owners. The following is just one example of what we’re hearing in the community about the challenges people and businesses are facing.
Falling Sky owner Rob Cohen reopened a part of his business in early May, but he and other Eugene brewpub and restaurant owners face a challenging future.
After being shut down for seven weeks, Cohen’s Falling Sky Delicatessen, 790 Blair Blvd., reopened on May 1 for takeout and delivery business only. Falling Sky Brewpub on Oak Alley remains closed, as does Falling Sky Pizzeria in the University of Oregon’s Erb Memorial Union.
Cohen says owning a business such as his during the COVID-19 pandemic is “perilous.”
“It’s like walking in slow motion, blindfolded, down a plank in a windstorm without knowing if there is anything on the other side,” he said. “Without a (COVID-19) vaccine very soon, the short-term outlook for brewpubs and restaurants like us seems very bleak.”
The March shutdown threw 49 Falling Sky employees out of work. Reopening the deli restored 17 jobs.
The state’s reopening guidelines for dine-in service require social distancing and other COVID-19 safety measures. But Cohen said he is not ready to offer that option for the following reasons: He worries about the risk of infection for staff and customers; his employees would have to enforce social distancing, which could be a problem with transients who often attempt to use the deli’s bathroom; and it’s unknown if there would be enough demand for dine-in service to cover the cost of added employees.
Cohen was able to reopen the deli with financial help from the U.S. Small Business Administration – a $10,000 grant and a Paycheck Protection Program loan – plus flexibility from vendors, landlords and the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.
Falling Sky received the Paycheck Protection Program loan with help from Summit Bank, which has been “amazing to work with throughout all of this,” Cohen said. “It has reaffirmed my belief in local banking.”
The City of Eugene has created a specialized team to help support local businesses as Lane County continues Phase 1 of the Governor’s Reopening Oregon plan. Learn about the many ways the City is supporting local businesses and how we can help.
For businesses that may need additional space to meet physical distancing requirements, this could include access and use of outdoor space surrounding their premises. For example, a restaurant can offer seating on the adjacent sidewalk. The City is actively working to streamline that process, while exploring options to convert on-street parking spaces to seating, an idea called a ‘streatery’.
Each situation is unique and comes with opportunities and challenges, which the City will be working through as we reopen together. Local businesses can email the team directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are looking forward to helping make your summer the best it can be. We are excited to announce Eugene Rec will be offering summer camps starting June 22. Summer Camp registration will begin at 9 a.m. June 8 and you can go to Rec’s online registration portal to set up an account, and registration will also be available over the phone or in person Amazon, Sheldon or Petersen Barn community centers. Look for more information coming your way by the end of May. We are hard at work planning for camp modifications to keep your kids safe and healthy including physical distancing, mask wearing and diligent sanitizing. Because these safety measures will include having smaller groups of campers, we appreciate your understanding that we expect enrollment capacity to be limited.
Childcare programs are also now running at Sheldon, Amazon and Petersen Barn community centers. Call 541-682-5312 for information and registration for child care.
Pools currently remain closed during Phase 1 of Lane County’s reopening. We are working on how we might safely begin swimming lessons and lap swimming at Amazon Pool during Phase 2. Sheldon Pool will remain closed, as current guidelines do not allow indoor pools to operate during Phase 2. Echo Hollow Pool will remain closed until renovations are complete later this year.
Facility rentals, fitness classes and other Rec programming will gradually begin to restart; stay tuned for more information. We plan for the limited and gradual reopening of all our community centers after the start of Phase 2 except for Campbell, which is still undergoing renovations.
We have missed recreating with you and are excited to begin welcoming you back! We will keep you posted on our reopening news on our website and through future emails.
After 21 days in Phase 1, counties continuing to meet the prerequisites MAY be able to enter Phase 2. Lane County’s ability to progress to Phase 2 relies on all of us working together and following all safety guidelines outlined for our gradual reopening.
The County entered Phase 1 on May 15, so the earliest it could be allowed to move into Phase 2 would be June 5. Stay tuned for more information next week about the process.