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Businesses in Clatsop County adapt as county moves between high and extreme risk levels

Clatsop County is changing risk levels for the second time in a matter of weeks.

ASTORIA, Ore. — Bubba's Sports Bar & Grill in Warrenton, like so many businesses across the state, is struggling.

"We run at 25% capacity which is about 30 people," said general manager Jessica Lahaie.

It is about to get even worse. Governor Kate Brown has updated the county risk levels for COVID-19 spread. Clatsop County is moving from a high-risk county to an extreme risk county. Later this week places like gyms and theaters will be forced to close for two weeks. Bars and restaurants will no longer be able to offer indoor dining. They can only offer takeout and limited outdoor dining.

"It's really tough, especially for bartenders," said Lahaie. "They have families, kids, rent, all that stuff. They live on their tips."

Bruce Jones, the mayor of Astoria, is frustrated that businesses in his city will be making major adjustments for the second time in a matter of weeks. It was not that long ago that Clatsop County was downgraded from extreme risk to high risk. Now the county is moving back to extreme risk.

"I work in a museum as my full-time job," said Jones. "We can open and close easily. But for restaurants, for those types of businesses, they need to order perishable supplies. If they don't know if they'll stay open two more days or not it becomes very expensive for them."

Jones believes that slowing the spread of COVID-19 can still be accomplished with bars and restaurants operating at 25% capacity indoors, like they are right now. The do not need to be forced into takeout only. Jones said that much in a letter to Governor Brown.

"Let's look at the data," he said. "Let's target our mitigation at the risk of transmission. We hear time and time again from our public health agencies that's in social gatherings, people who don't follow the guidelines."

In other words, not at places like Bubba's Sports Bar & Grill in neighboring Warrenton.

"I really don't think we're the problem, is really how I feel," said Lahaie. 

Regardless, come Friday there will be no more indoor dining at Bubba's. The management team is trying to stay positive.

"We're a pretty solid community so there are people willing to help out," said Lahaie.

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