OREGON, USA — Due to safety concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic, the state of Oregon will not issue permits for outdoor events like weddings until July 1. That includes some weddings planned on Oregon's public beaches.
Carolyn Greenwood is a wedding officiant based in Manzanita. She estimates about 90% of her clients come from out-of-state. Her business, Oregon Beach Ceremonies, offers people help to navigate the permitting process.
"The challenge is, they're not issuing permits right now," Greenwood said.
People are allowed to have wedding ceremonies on Oregon beaches without a permit if:
- There are fewer than 50 people in attendance.
- There are no materials such as chairs, tables, gazebos or artificial structures brought in.
Oregon Parks & Recreation Department is taking applications for events scheduled after July 1.
"It's really important for us to work together to support health of everybody," said Chris Havel with the Oregon Parks and Recreation department.
Havel said his office faced significant layoffs last year in fallout of the COVID-19 economic crisis. The department is now rehiring staff and getting back up to speed.
"Have a lot of work that we normally would have done in the off season last year that we weren't able to do, so staff are really hard-pressed to get all that done," Havel explained.
However, he said the main reason for the permit delay is to deter travel and the spread of COVID-19.
"It's frustrating on both sides," Greenwood said. "I can see it as someone who lives here...There's just been such an influx of tourism out here because I think people want a place to congregate."
"We are still where we were last year. That's how I see it," added Sadie McIntyre, a wedding coordinator in Portland.
McIntyre owns Vareus Events and has more than 20 years of wedding planning experience.
She said a lot of couples are in a bind during the pandemic.
"They just suddenly realize, 'Okay, we're not going to get to have the wedding we want right now. Let's do something small,'" she explained.
Her suggestion is to do just that: keep events small and without a setup that requires a permit.
"I have suggested to all my couples: Get married," McIntyre said. "Get married on time, even if it looks different than planned. You can always do a celebration down the road."
Havel acknowledged people are anxious to get back to larger events with friends and loved ones. He said in the final stretch of vaccine rollout, it's important to stay the course for public health.
"Patience, kindness and respect of the rules it's an important way for us to get through this season," Havel said.
"It's a [safety] risk to have that many people," agreed Greenwood.