News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Sisters awaits lifting of restrictions

The mandate to wear masks in an effort to mitigate spread of COVID-19 will soon be a thing of the past.

Oregon Governor Kate Brown last week reaffirmed plans to lift most COVID-related restrictions once 70 percent of the state’s adults have received at least one COVID-19 vaccination. As of last week, 67.2 percent of eligible adults had been vaccinated.

Restrictions continue to ease, and activity has picked up at Sisters restaurants and businesses. As The Nugget reported last week, restaurants and retailers have struggled with confusion over mask enforcement. While the governor’s guidance has been to require proof of vaccination as an alternative to wearing a mask, very few businesses want to act as the “vaccine police.” The result is that some businesses continue to strictly mandate masks, while others are relaxing enforcement.

The impact of enforcement of restrictions is still being felt.

Cork Cellars Wine and Bistro in Sisters was hit with a fine in May after they had reopened to indoor dining when Deschutes County briefly returned to the “Extreme Risk” category last winter.

The Oregon Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) issued a release announcing the fine, stating that Cork Cellars “willfully chose to allow indoor dining despite a public health order limiting capacity to zero in Deschutes County.” The restaurant faces a penalty of $17,800. The citation has been appealed.

The agency noted that “if an Oregon OSHA inspection documents violations while a county is at extreme risk, but the county’s risk level drops before the citation is issued, the citation will still be issued. The change in risk levels may affect how the violation needs to be corrected, but not whether it is cited.”

Once restrictions are lifted, it is unlikely that they will be reinstated.

The Oregonian reported last weekend that Oregon’s epidemiologist and health officer, Dr. Dean Sidelinger, said he doubts the Oregon Health Authority would recommend reinstituting mask requirements and other COVID-19 safety precautions down the road.

“But I don’t want to take anything off the table if the situation dramatically changes,” he said.

As restrictions lift, Sisters events begin to come back on line. Last weekend would have been Sisters Rodeo weekend, but the event organizers could not get definitive guidance from the State in time to make a decision to move forward.

The Sisters Folk Festival will host its first in a series of summer concerts on June 25, and the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show is scheduled to go forward on July 10 in a modified format.

Author Bio

Jim Cornelius, Editor in Chief

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Jim Cornelius is editor in chief of The Nugget and author of “Warriors of the Wildlands: True Tales of the Frontier Partisans.” A history buff, he explores frontier history across three centuries and several continents on his podcast, The Frontier Partisans. For more information visit


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