SOUTH COAST – As the COVID-19 situation evolves, the Port of Coos Bay and Charleston Marina is still open though observing social distancing precautions.

Margaret Barber, director of external affairs for the marina, said their offices are closed to the public, though payments can be made online, over the phone, or by putting a check in the drop box. The office is still staffed to answer phones and maintenance personnel are available.

The boat ramp is also still open. Barber noted they’ve been getting lots of cancellations for reservations at the marina due to travel restrictions.

Since the Port of Coos Bay operates as a commercial port, they are considered an essential business as part of the transportation industry. As a result, they are not mandated to close under the "Stay-at-Home" order from Gov. Kate Brown.

All facilities at Winchester Bay’s Salmon Harbor Marina and RV Park are closed. As a recreational facility, everything is considered non-essential under the ‘stay-at-home’ order. According to a post on the marina’s Facebook page, there is no camping, no new moorage, and no launching boats until the order is lifted.

Some people are still renting spaces at the RV park, though. According to Harbor Manager Paul Stallard, veterans and full-time RVers are being allowed to stay in the park during the shut down. He noted that these are people who, if they told them to leave, wouldn't really have a place to go.

Stallard also noted that boat owners who moor their boat at the harbor can still get to it freely, to check that it’s still tied or if it's taking on water. Representatives from Coos Health and Wellness noted that people can also freely do recreational boating as long as the boat was already in the water.

Commercial fishing boats are able to come and go freely, though they are still encouraged to practice social distancing wherever possible.

“That’s their livelihood, so we can’t really block them,” Stallard said.

The Port of Bandon has also implemented changes. The administrative offices are closed except for critical appointments that were already scheduled. Other office work will be conducted by phone or other electronic means, with rent payments payed over the phone or by mail.

The Bandon Farmer’s Market will be held outdoors, selling food products only. No food is to be consumed on the premises and people must maintain a minimum of six feet social distancing.

While some boat ramps and marinas are still in operation, there are some restrictions on boat usage during the social distancing orders. CHW noted that driving a boat from a residence to the water is considered non-essential travel, and not permitted under the governor’s order.

“If you’re not doing essential travel, you’re not supposed to be traveling,” they said. “It really is whether or not you want to be walking to those areas.”

The exception to this is if fishing or crabbing is used as a primary means of providing food to the household. The boating would not then be considered a recreational activity. Walking from a residence to a boat already moored at a dock is fine.

Coast Guard stations are still manned and able to respond to emergencies. Outdoor activities like fishing and hunting are still allowed as long as precautions and social distancing are observed.

Reporter Adam Robertson can be reached at 541-266-6043, or by email at aworldnews4@countrymedia.net.

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