News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

City to address reopening steps

Sisters may be able to begin “reopening” by degrees soon, as Deschutes County enters Phase I, according to the State of Oregon’s template.

On May 6, the Deschutes County Board of Commissioners approved and submitted the County’s reopening plan to the Governor. On May 7, the State finalized guidance for specific sectors to reopen if their County has been approved to move into Phase I reopening.

If approved, the County would be able to move into Phase I no earlier than May 15.

After 21 days in Phase I, counties continuing to meet the prerequisites may be able to enter Phase II.

The goal is to further expand gathering size, allow some office work, and begin to allow visitation to congregate care.

Governor Brown stated that Phase III concerts, conventions, festivals, and live audience sports will not resume until a reliable treatment or prevention for COVID-19 is available. It is unknown at this time when this will be. Therefore, their recommendation is that all large gatherings should be canceled or significantly modified through at least September.

Further guidance on large gatherings scheduled for later in the fall will be provided this summer.

In materials provided on the City of Sisters website in preparation for the City Council’s Wednesday, May 13 workshop, the City reports that:

“There is a coordinated understanding between local governments and chambers of commerce/visitor’s centers that now is not the time to be encouraging tourism activity. The focus for now should be on shop-local initiatives and those within Central Oregon. Nonetheless, visitors will come to Central Oregon and Sisters — that is largely outside of our control.”

Going into the workshop, City staff provided a series of staff recommendations for Council consideration:

Staff recommends that City Hall remain closed to the public with a reopening date yet to be determined. When City Hall reopens staff recommends additional safety measures for distancing and sanitation.

Creekside Campground is recommended for opening after Memorial Day, subject to State and County restrictions. Staff has prepared a campground reopening plan for the Council with safety measures included.

The City’s recycling center could reopen on May 18 with additional safety measures in place.

The City of Sisters reports that staff is actively working with a variety of interest groups in its response to COVID-19. This includes proactive outreach and follow-up with:

• Medium, large, and City-wide event applicants to learn what their plans are regarding moving forward or not with their event, and to inquire about how the City can assist if needed.

• Other municipalities and event organizers throughout Deschutes County to learn how they are approaching their safety plans.

• Researching what services Deschutes County Environmental Health can provide small municipalities who do not have the professional expertise to review and confirm compliance with COVID-19 protocols.

In addition, the City is consistently working to secure products such as portable hand-washing stations, protective face masks, and hand sanitizer. The procurement of those are for the downtown area and public spaces, regardless of public events while providing for and encouraging safety measures.

“These products are in very high demand and require consistent follow up with distributors to eventually secure a quantity for measured use over an extended period of time,” the City reports. “The goal being by the time the City is permitted to open and return to some level of activity we will have enough product on-hand to assist the community and staff.”

The City is also considering allowing businesses to use public right-of-way for seating to comply with distancing guidelines, and offering business license fee relief.

All of these topics will be discussed at the Wednesday, May 13, workshop at 5 p.m. To access meeting information, visit


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