Restaurant Recieves Large Fine; Lane County Move to High Risk; Gas Prices Jump a Dime; New Cases of Covid

Restaurant Recieves Large Fine

The Little Brown Hen has learned that they will be fined $17,800 dollars for willfully disregarding the state mandates against indoor dining for restaurants in Extreme risk conditions.  In a report yesterday afternoon Oregon OSHA announced the fine which is twice the minimum allowed under the circumstances.  The statement said that such willful behavior puts employees at risk and enables the employer to achieve a competitive advantage over businesses that choose to comply with the regulations.  Little Brown Hen owner Stacey Brown went live with her decision to open her restaurant in December citing the need to support herself, employees and the community.  Brown did receive a PPP loan and a subsequent grant during the pandemic and a gofundme page was also started that currently has $2,175 towards a $10,000 goal.  Restaurants in the Florence area have privately voiced disdain over the restrictions while opting to follow them as restaurants to the north in Lincoln County and the south in Douglas County remain open mainly due to the lack of a large suburban population like Eugene affecting coastal numbers.  Lane County does move to a High Risk category effective Friday.

Lane County Move to High Risk

The office of the governor has issued an update to Lane County.  Beginning this Friday Lane County will move from Extreme Risk to High Risk which will allow for some businesses including restaurants to open for limited seating.  The county has seen continual decreases in its daily COVID-19 numbers over the past several weeks.  The county will have to maintain a level of less than 200 cases per 100,000 residents to stay at that level, and could drop to moderate if the current 20% decrease statewide continues.  Restaurants can seat up to 25% capacity or 50 people whichever is smaller and can extend their operating hours to 11 pm.  Retail establishments can have up to 50% maximum capacity.  Indoor entertainment, such as movie theaters can also have up to 25% capacity but there is still a ban on concession.  Michael Falter with City Lights Cinemas says that until that ban is lifted they will not be able to reopen.  LCPH liaison Jason Davis says while the work is not done, this is a great milestone.

“I think it’s something to celebrate.  I think we as Lane County residents can be proud that we’ve done our part in reversing that extreme risk category.”

He says that even thought the reduction in cases is significant there are still too many cases to feel safe that can move to an even lower category.

Gas Prices Jump a Dime

Crude oil prices continue to climb and it has had an effect on local gas prices.  Price of a gallon of regular gas has increased another .10 cents this past week for an average price of $2.65 a gallon.  Crude oil is trading at over 60 dollars a barrel and oil production is down due to recent power outages and winter storms in both the Midwest and the pacific northwest.  The combination of the two incidents are responsible for the rise at the pump.  Marie Dodds with AAA Oregon says prices are likely to continue to rise until operations resume.  More than 2 dozen refineries have been affected by the weather but they are expected to resume production by the week’s end.  Dodds says we can likely see prices above $3.00 a gallon by spring.

New Cases of Covid

39 new Lane County Cases and one for the Florence area are the latest numbers of coronavirus cases.  There have been 162 cases now in and around Florence since the beginning of the pandemic.  Vaccines supplies are beginning to ramp up again as the effects of last week’s winter storm wane.  Lane County Public Health Liaison Jason Davis in his Tuesday report did discuss the lack of rural clinic availability.  Davis said that limited supplies of vaccines have meant smaller supplies being delivered to rural areas but he expects that to increase with the increase that the state has been dolling out.  The county received another 6 thousand plus doses and Davis says those deliveries are expected to continue over the next several weeks.  Davis says base on numbers so far every person over the age of 65 should be vaccinated by mid April.  Lane County Public Health Liaison Davis confirmed this morning that Florence would be the site for a mass vaccination clinic it will happen on March 3rd at the Florence Events Center, there are about 1000 vaccinations available and priority will be given to those who have pre registered.