Street Eating; Ready to Rhody; COVID-19; EAS Test

Street Eating

It will likely not be long until you begin seeing the bright orange blockades on Bay Street.  Applications are available from the City of Florence for restaurants to bolster their seating capacity by filing for a Parking Café permit.  The city approved the measure to allow for restaurants to utilize the parking spaces directly in front of their businesses.  The permits were first issued as a way for restaurants to increase their seating when indoor restrictions were in place, but the city council decided that it was a good idea to continue as there was an anticipation of a very busy tourist season.  Several restaurants have already submitted their permit applications along with their $110 fee.  Those restaurants will be able to begin seating on May 2nd.  Sarah Moehrke with the city of Florence says businesses that wish to take advantage of the increased seating capacity for Rhody days must submit their applications no later than May 6th.  Restaurants must also have up to date sidewalk permits.

Ready to Rhody

Bettina Hannigan, president and CEO of the Florence Area Chamber of Commerce says that final preparations are in place for the upcoming “Back in Bloom” Rhododendron Festival.  She said the vendor fair filling up quickly was a good sign of how excited the participants were to get back to business.  Hannigan believes the recent pandemic had some benefits for the region as tourists rediscovered the coast after having to cut back on the more expensive travel and were limited by pandemic restrictions.

“I think that they really reconnected with what a beautiful destination we have here and how much easier and less expensive it is to come to the coast.  I think we’re going to see that residual tourist coming back more frequently for a long time.”

Since the pandemic some businesses, particularly restaurants, have struggled with finding help.  That may be one of the only drawbacks to the festival this year.  Hannigan says she has advised restaurant to come up with a Rhody Menu with limited selections that can be easily and quickly prepared to help mitigate some of the issues with staffing.  Hannigan says she expects this Rhododendron Festival to be one of the biggest.


Three more COVID-19 cases popped up in Florence according to the latest numbers from Lane County.  The all time total stands at 1526 and there have been 16 new cases in the past 2 weeks.  Lane County numbers continue to climb as well with 95 cases reported yesterday.  For the past several days the state totals have also been climbing with more than 1200 cases reported yesterday.  Hospital cases have remained steady over the past 3 days with 133 beds dedicated to covid patients with 18 in ICU.  Test positivity rates saw a .5% decrease.

EAS Test

There will be a test of the Emergency Alert System tomorrow for the Siuslaw Valley Fire and Rescue service region.  The test will come in the form of a text, call, or email.  The message delivered will simply be “Test Alert”  the test will not use the television or radio aspect of the EAS since this is a regional test and those signals are broadcast countywide.  Megan Messmer with West Lane Emergency Operations Group reminds residents not to call 9-1-1 in response to the message.