The city of Cannon Beach has had to take extraordinary measures in an attempt to protect its residents from the threat of COVID-19.
Recently, confrontations with visitors who are banned from the area have turned violent, leading to arrests, according to the city.
Cannon Beach is closing its beaches starting at 7 a.m. Saturday and extending though 7 p.m. Tuesday for the protection of the life and property of its residents, as stated in an administrative order signed Thursday by City Manager Bruce St. Denis.
On Tuesday, the city also extended its visitor evacuation order until “at least June 2,” as stated in another city resolution.
And tonight, the council will vote whether to reaffirm and extend its state of emergency resolution until such time as the city council rescinds it, as stated in the proposed resolution.
The beach closure this weekend applies to both residents and visitors, the order states.
Rick Hudson, the city’s emergency manager, said Friday in an email the “challenge is the amount of non-county residents who have been coming into the town in violation of the State and the City’s Emergency orders. The Cannon Beach police have been handing out warnings and using education to request that visitors leave the area in respect of the orders. These confrontations have been turning violent with officers and some local residents have had many confrontations leading to an increase of arrests.
“Our goal is to keep everyone safe and unfortunately there are many people who are not respecting the severity of the situation. Our local business are open for essential services and we have been working with them to start to unwind some of the restrictions to support the State’s re-opening plan to move into Phase 1. This spike in out of the area visitors is definitely increasing the difficulty of the situation instead of easing our protocols.”
Out of concern for its residents under the threat of COVID-19, the city of Cannon Beach passed a visitor evacuation order earlier in March, the order states. The order includes restrictions on hotel and short term rentals.
Despite state, local and city restrictions, “the city of Cannon Beach has experienced an increasing influx of visitors defying the state and local restrictions and not practicing social distancing, especially on the beaches adjacent to the city. Such actions continue to threaten life and property within the city,” as stated in the order.
The weather forecast for the upcoming weekend is warm and sunny and “it is extremely likely that such and ideal beach weather will further entice visitors from the Portland metropolitan areas to visit the beaches adjacent to the city,” as stated in the order.
Hudson said the weekend beach closures are not planned beyond this weekend’s order, unless visitors do not obey the order. Violating the order is a misdemeanor.
He said initially the visitors’ ban worked well. However, that has since changed.
“A few weeks ago the city of Seaside had closed their beaches for the same reason and these visitors started to push into Cannon Beach,” he said. “Our goal was to never close the beach, but we needed to make a difficult decision to increase the safety of the community and the visitors.”