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Gov. Brown puts Hood River County application for Phase 2 on pause

Businesses like bowling alleys and movie theaters would be able to reopen with limitations under Phase 2.

HOOD RIVER, Ore. — "It's been since March 17 since we've even made a dollar," said Patrick Olson, owner of Orchard Lanes Bowling Center in Hood River.

The bowling alley has been closed for three months and June 12 seemed like the day it would finally reopen.

"Money is time right now. We need to start making some to keep ourselves going," Olson said.

Hood River County applied for the Phase 2 of reopening on Monday, June 8. Governor Brown announced on Thursday evening that she was pausing all statewide applications for seven days.

"For us, it was very disappointing. We were really looking forward to opening and getting a chance to start doing what we're doing," said Olson.

Hood River originally planned to apply on the Wednesday prior, but board members agreed to wait the extra four days after multiple outbreaks of COVID-19 at various workplaces popped up. 

RELATED: COVID-19 outbreak linked to Hood River fruit packing company, Oregon health officials say

When County Chair Mike Oates learned of the statewide pause, he called a the county representative for Governor Brown, "I told him I was disappointed. That I felt like that when we delayed our decision on the previous Wednesday, that we did so and it was the right thing to do and that we could handle these resurgence that were taking place in our county."

Oates tells KGW, "It's like we're being punished for doing what was probably the right thing to do."

RELATED: AMC Theaters plans to reopen globally in July

There are only two movie theaters in Hood River County, both owned by Andrew McElderry. 

Andrew's Pizza and Skylight Theater and Hood River Cinemas. Both need upgrades to software to meet the state's requirements for movie theaters to assign seats to maintain social distance standards and online ticket sales. For him, that's an $8,000 upgrade.

"There's no hurry, I'd rather get it right then push the envelope," McElderry says.

The movie theater owner says the lack of product now makes opening up so soon not as urgent. To fill the screens, he may have to rely on older movies like Jaws or Star Wars for instance or find independent distributors that have new movies to show.

His screen times will also be different in the COVID-19 era, "Originally you had five movies on five screens for 4-5 showtimes a day. We're looking at two titles on five screens with maybe three showtimes a day and also fewer occupancy."

Back at Orchard Lanes, Patrick Olson says it's now a waiting game.

"We'll just keep our fingers crossed and continue to just kind of hold on."

RELATED: Businesses adjust for Phase 2 reopening in Washington and Oregon

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