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COOS BAY —  In a unanimous vote Tuesday evening, the Coos Bay City Council lifted a voluntary order asking city hotels, motels and short-term rentals not to rent to non-essential lodgers.

This vote came after similar mandatory restrictions were lifted at the county level late last week. The meeting was held virtually.

The vote was called a “procedural issue” by Coos Bay Mayor Joe Benetti and City Manager Rodger Craddock. Benetti wondered aloud whether the council needed to vote on the issue at all, since the measures were voluntary. Craddock said the initial measures weren’t even “sent out” as stronger county measures superseded them

The original resolution setting lodging restrictions was set to expire on June 1, but Craddock issued a new resolution asking that it be amended to end immediately following Tuesday night’s vote. The council voted unanimously to end the restrictions.

The council initially passed Resolution 20-07 in early April, asking for area hotels, motels and short-term rentals to follow voluntary restrictions that only allowed rentals to essential workers, local residents, those without shelter, and those who needed a room for medical reasons.

These voluntary measures were soon overwritten at the county level, when Coos County Board of Commissions made the restrictions mandatory.

The measures were put in place to discourage tourism and recreational stays that could potentially spread the new coronavirus. Specifically, the measures were in response to an influx of tourists during spring break.

The resolution passed unanimously and with almost no discussion beyond Benetti and Craddock’s comments. However, at the end of the meeting, council members commented that they hoped to see the public continue to take measures, such as wearing masks in public and practicing social distancing. Benetti commented that he was anxious to see the area reopen, and that taking these safety measures would allow reopening to occur.

Councilman Drew Farmer is cautious in his assessment of the situation. “I can see folks wanting to get back to work, it’s just — how do we do that in the safest manner possible?” he said. Further, he pointed out that while the city took some action to reopen Tuesday night, it would not supersede non-essential travel restrictions at the state level.

Joseph Monahan, General Manager of the Best Western Holiday Motel, was happy to hear that the city had lifted the voluntary restrictions along with the county. The measures only added an “extra layer of bureaucracy” during a time when most of the motel’s guests weren’t non-essential travelers, he said.

Beneath all the comments from council members, the mayor and from Monahan, there was an acknowledgement of uncertainty.

“It’s the unknown. It’s that trying to make plans for your staff, to make plans for scheduling. Scheduling, you know, we used to be able to do for a month at a time. Now we’re week to week. What’s the next mandate from the city or state? And how are we going to manage it?” Monahan asked.

Cheryl Upshaw can be reached at 541-266-6049, or by email at worldnews5@countrymedia.net.

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