SOUTH BEND — On Sunday, March 22, Pacific County Health Officer Dr. Steven Krager ordered the closure of all beach approaches and hospitality lodging businesses in Pacific County.
The order was effective as of 2 p.m. on Sunday. The announcement was made a few hours after 21 hotels in Long Beach announced they would voluntarily close their doors in order to discourage visitors to the peninsula while there are concerns about the spread of Covid-19.
The order applies to: resorts; hotels; motels; short-term rentals; timeshares; home stays, such as bed and breakfast lodging; campgrounds; RV parks; and private property being used as campgrounds.
The order does not apply to people who have resided in the lodging since March 17.
It also does not apply to: people employed by these businesses; people with work related to Covid-19, such as healthcare professionals, national guard members, law enforcement, local, state and federal government employees and other essential personnel; people required by employers to travel in Pacific County, including truck drivers and service providers; more exceptions will be considered with a request in writing to the Public Health Officer or another person working as his designee.
Violation of or failure to comply with the order could result in; a misdemeanor punishable by a fine, imprisonment up to ninety days, or both. The Pacific County Sheriff's Office and other law enforcement agencies are empowered to enforce the order.
To contact the county about a possible exception, people can call the Emergency Operations Center by phone at either 360-875-9407 or 360-642-9407 or 360-875-9342.
Krager ordered the closure after meeting with county and city officials about the large number of travelers seen in the area this weekend. The order was supported by: the Pacific County Board of Commissioners; City of South Bend Mayor Julie Struck; City of Long Beach Mayor Jerry Phillips; City of Raymond Mayor Tony Nordin; and the City of Ilwaco Mayor Gary Forner.
A news release from the county said the order would be temporary, and "once the order is lifted, each jurisdiction hopes that everyone will come back and enjoy our ocean beaches and all that Pacific County has to offer."
The news release reiterated there are no confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Pacific County at this time and this order it meant to reduce the spread of the disease.
The commissioners will approve the order at their next public meeting on Tuesday, March 24. Board of Commissioners Chairman Frank Wolfe said visitors must be discouraged from coming to the county to protect the health and safety of residents.
"If you live in Seattle, you stay in Seattle," Wolfe said. "If you live in Portland, you stay in Portland."
In light of an influx of visitors to the peninsula this weekend, some local hotels announced a voluntary closure to help "flatten the curve" of Covid-19. Those 21 hotels made up nearly one third of the total lodging available on the Long Beach Peninsula.
“Our visitors are very important to us but this is not the right time to be encouraging people to travel outside their own homes nor to invite them into our community,” said Andi Day, executive director, Pacific County Tourism Bureau. “If we can all act responsibly right now, this will be behind us in time to enjoy weeks at the beach in the near future.”
The City of Long Beach ordered its three beach approaches closed at 6 a.m. on Sunday, March 22. Mayor Jerry Phillips said the city was hit hard by tourists this weekend, which made it difficult to enforce social distancing in downtown Long Beach.
On March 19, the county also cancelled a clam dig set to begin on March 20. Despite the cancellation, local hotels reported a high number of tourists.
“We’ve all been doing our best to stay at home as have most of our regular guests,” said Jeff Homer, Shakti Cove Cottages, in Ocean Park.
Properties voluntarily choosing to close to visitors at this time include the following: Adrift Hotel; Anchorage Cottages; Boardwalk Cottages; Boreas Bed & Breakfast Inn; China Beach Retreat; Coastal Inn & Suites; Col-Pacific Motel; Enchanted by the Sea Cottages; Inn at Discovery Coast; Inn at Harbour Village; Inn at the Sea; Intrepid House; Klipsan Beach Cottages; Lakeside Cottage; Lighthouse Oceanfront Resort; Mermaid Inn; Naytura Haus; Salt Hotel; Shakti Cove Cottages; Shelburne Hotel; Sou’wester Historic Lodge and Vintage Travel Trailer Park; and Your Cabin at the Beach.
Bonnie Cozby, president of the Ocean Park Area Chamber of Commerce and chair of the Ocean Park Village Club said she spoke with about 15 to 20 merchants in Ocean Park, all of whom supported any action taken to limit the number of visitors to the peninsula. It is understood this is what needs to happen to stop this disease from spreading, Cozby said.
"We don’t really need to have any visitors at this moment," Cozby said. "Thank you, but go home, that is where you’re supposed to be."
Meanwhile across the Columbia, the Astoria City Council voted to ban visitors from staying in hotels and other commercial lodging to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
The order will apply for as long as an emergency declared by Astoria last week is in place. Long-term guests and essential workers are exempt. The city gave visitors until midnight Monday to leave hotels and other lodging.
The Clatsop County Board of Commissioners also called a special meeting by teleconference on Sunday afternoon to consider an emergency order on lodging.
The moves follow the decision by Warrenton on Saturday night to ban recreational camping, homestay lodging and hotel stays in city limits through at least April.