Violating the new ‘stay home’’ order issued Monday by Oregon Gov. Kate Brown is a Class C misdemeanor.
Under Oregon law, that’s punishable by up to 30 days in jail, a fine of up to $1,250 or both.
But police agencies and sheriffs’ offices across the state say they’ll likely work to inform people about the new restrictions on social interactions, recreation and businesses through education, rather than take formal enforcement unless necessary.
“We will take an educate first response, using criminal citations as a very last resort,’’ Portland Police Chief Jami Resch said Monday.
Most public safety agencies already have been working to reduce taking non-violent offenders to jail to reduce jail populations in an effort to stem the spread of the coronavirus, and allow police to focus on life-threatening emergency calls.
Oregon State Police Supt. Travis Hampton said he hopes residents will obey the governor’s new order without law enforcement intervention during the coronavirus crisis. He called the misdemeanor penalty an “undesirable last resort.”
“We recognize the Governor’s authority in an emergency declaration and we will do our best to educate our communities to protect their health,” he said in a statement. “While citation and arrest authority provisions exist for violating the Governor’s directive, OSP views this as an undesirable last resort and we strive for voluntary compliance.”
Tillamook County Sheriff’s Lt. Gordon McCraw, the county’s commander of its Incident Command Team in response to COVID-19, said simply presenting people with the knowledge that they can face a more than $1,000 fine or end up in jail for up to a month is typically enough to get people’s attention.
“We’re hoping we’ll gain compliance without having to take action,’’ he said.
Portland police said they’ll educate the public about the importance of complying with the new state restrictions. Officers will attempt to educate violators of the order first while maintaining a six-foot distance and issue a warning to adhere to it, police said.
If people don’t comply, they can be subject to a criminal citation for interfering with an officer or violating the public health order.
If businesses are not in compliance, they’ll also be given a warning and opportunity to get in compliance, Portland police said. Officers may write a report about any violations and send the information to an appropriate licensing agency, such as the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.
But police ask that community members not call 9-1-1 to report violations of the governor’s ‘stay home’ order to allow public safety officers to respond to life-threatening emergency calls.
Tillamook County’s Board of Commissioners acted on Sunday, before Brown’s order, to close all parks, camping and day use camping in all privately-owned, county, state and federal parks except for people who live in parks full-time and pay month to month. The county also closed all lodging at hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts and short-term rentals to visitors who are not providing essential services or present for commercial reasons such as construction or trucking. The county also closed boat launches to all but commercial fisherman.
Tillamook County public safety officers put up barriers outside the Pacific City beach access lot after a report of a flood of people crowding there on Sunday. They also closed beach access points and parking lots and added “No Parking Zones” on streets closer to the beaches.
At the Port of Garibaldi, for example, the lot was overrun with boats and cars and not a lot of social distancing was occurring, McCraw said. So the county closed off access to the boat launches.
“We’re not saying you can’t go fishing” McCraw said, “but you can’t use our boat ramps to do it.”
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