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Oregon Coast prepares for busy Labor Day weekend amid COVID-19 pandemic

With COVID-19 restrictions still in place, local residents and business owners hope tourists will respect the rules while having a good time.

CANNON BEACH, Ore. — Cloudy skies and mild temperatures in Cannon Beach Friday provided welcome relief for a small number of visitors getting a head start on the Labor Day weekend.

“The beaches aren't nearly as crowded as what they will be on Saturday and Sunday,” predicted Cannon Beach resident Deb Atiyeh.

Most hotels, including The Waves Cannon Beach, were booked for the weekend.

“This is kind of the last hoorah for our summer,” said The Waves owner Greg Swedenborg. “Three-day weekend? It's going to be crowded. When it's 100 degrees in Portland? It's going to be crowded in town."

Swedenborg said crowds are critical for business owners who depend on tourists dollars, especially after the city essentially shut down for two months in the spring because of COVID-19.

“We've been very successful in not having huge outbreaks,” said Swedenborg.

But the pandemic is still a concern. It's why Swedenborg implemented no-touch check-in methods for guests, and prioritizes sensitization. It’s also why most visitors in town were wearing masks.

“I like to say we've had thousands of fantastic guests and about four who were a pain,” said Swedenborg. “They just couldn't deal with new changes or policies but 99.9% were fantastic.”

A couple visiting from Indiana remarked on how many people were wearing face coverings.

“People seem to be taking it much more seriously, walking around and wearing masks and being respectful in that way—it’s a big contrast from where we're from,” said Tristan. 

“The attitude around it is much different,” added his wife Amanda.

Cannon Beach is wide open, but considering social distancing, people who live there said it can fill up.

“I think it's a pretty safe place but if it gets too overrun with too many tourists, there's not a place to park for everyone and there's just not enough space for everyone,” said Atyieh. “The beaches get crowded.”

And lately, dirty. Many locals including Atiyeh are dealing with an influx of litter left behind after the crowds go home.

“It's up to us otherwise to clean it up,” she said. “We really care about keeping it sacred.”

Cannon Beach police said people can report offensive littering—a class C misdemeanor—to them.

“It's been a long, busy season,” said Swedenborg. “Just have some respect and kindness."