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Klamath Chamber Supports Businesses Reopening Despite COVID Rules

Erik Neumann/JPR

The Klamath County Chamber of Commerce has announced its support for a group of local businesses choosing to reopen in spite of state COVID-19 closures.

The Chamber’s Heather Tramp says the businesses, which include restaurants and gyms, are planning to follow general guidelines from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention instead of state rules from the Oregon Health Authority that currently prohibit most indoor group activities.

“We have encouraged the businesses that are making this tough decision to be very diligent with the guidelines,” Tramp says. “And make sure they’re following the protocols that the CDC has recommended and that they’re doing those things to keep their customers and our community safe.”

The businesses include restaurants, bars and gyms, though chamber of commerce representatives declined to provide any names. Over a dozen businesses in Klamath County planned to reopen on Monday, according to Rich Schuster, president of the Klamath County Chamber of Commerce.

“So far, everybody that we’ve spoken with, they have a very strong sense that they want to follow the CDC guidelines. I haven’t had any indication that there are any businesses that are unable to in some way,” Schuster says.

Both Tramp and Schuster say the stance is not out of defiance of state restrictions, but is an effort to keep businesses from closing permanently.

“If somebody just flat-out said that they’re not going to follow any guidelines, then that’s a different story. Now you have somebody that’s just being irresponsible,” Schuster says.

Klamath County is among the 24 of Oregon’s 36 counties that are in the Oregon Health Authority’s “extreme risk” category for the spread of COVID-19.

Erik Neumann is JPR's news director. He earned a master's degree from the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and joined JPR as a reporter in 2019 after working at NPR member station KUER in Salt Lake City.