By GQ Pan
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said ahead of Thanksgiving that people in her state should call the police if they find out their neighbors are violating the latest public health restrictions, which includes lowering the number of people at private gatherings to six.
“Look, this is no different than what happens if there’s a party down the street and it’s keeping everyone awake,” Brown said Friday when asked by a reporter from KGW if she wants people calling the police on their neighbors.
“What do neighbors do? They call law enforcement because it’s too noisy,” the Democratic governor continued. “This is just like that. It’s like a violation of a noise ordinance.”
Brown issued an executive order last week to implement a two-week statewide “freeze,” which restricts restaurants to takeout only, closes businesses such as gyms, pools, and movie theaters, and requires groceries and pharmacies to operate at a 75 percent maximum capacity. It also limits social gatherings, indoors or out, to no more than six people from two households.
A violation of the freeze measures, if cited criminally, is a class C misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail, a fine of up to $1,250, or both, according to the governor’s office.
Brown said at a Nov. 13 press briefing that she had directed Oregon State Police to work with local law enforcement on potentially arrest people for failing to follow the new restrictions.
“In terms of individuals, I am not asking you,” she said. “I am telling you to stop your social gatherings, your informal social gatherings, and your house parties, and to limit your social interactions to six and under, not more than one household, and I’m asking that immediately. I will take stronger legal action as appropriate.”
The restrictive policy has faced pushback from some of Oregon’s state and local leaders. On Friday, the Marion County Sheriff’s office said in a statement that they are not going to arrest people for violating the governor’s freeze orders.
“We recognize that we cannot arrest or enforce our way out of the pandemic, and we believe both are counterproductive to public health goals,” the statement read. “We can work together in following these recommendations to make our communities a safer and healthier place. If you find yourself at a location where you are uncomfortable with the situation, we recommend you remove yourself from that area or situation.”
Brown responded to her critics, calling them “irresponsible.” “These are politicians seeking headlines, not public servants trying to save lives,” she said. “My top priority as governor is to keep Oregonians healthy and safe. That’s where I’m focused.”