The two state legislators representing Malheur County sharply criticized new limits on business announced Friday by Gov. Kate Brown to ward off more Covid infections.

“Our businesses across Oregon will not survive another shutdown and thousands of Oregonians will lose their jobs, again, right before the holidays,” said state Rep. Mark Owens, R-Crane, in a statement issued soon after Brown disclosed her new orders.

State Sen. Lynn Findley, R-Vale, said an interview the economic damage by the limits are likely to be significant.

“I’m frankly afraid she’s going to break a lot of small businesses,” Findley said.

The comments were part of a chorus of objections to the governor’s decision on how to contain the rapidly spreading coronavirus. She is ordering restaurants to stop all but takeout service, directing gyms and other venues to close entirely, and mandating that Oregonians gather in groups of no more than six people.

Owens said the measures were “far too extreme” and were made without consulting local public officials, health authorities or businesses. He said he feared that eastern Oregon communities “will suffer to the point of no return.”

He said the virus is causing significant suffering in ways not always apparent.

“We’ve seen a devastating increase in suicide especially among youth and young adults, drug and alcohol use, and domestic and sexual violence,” he said. “Our elderly family members have gone months without visitors or family and are dying alone.”

Findley said he has been part of a group of Oregon leaders meeting almost weekly to track the virus and frame ways for government to act. He said the group was framing a plan to have local areas help decide on restrictions needed. He said the idea was to parallel the flexibility given to school systems on a county-by-county basis.

That work was brushed aside by Brown’s announcement.

“She elected to do one-size-fits-all and slam the door on that effort,” Findley said.

Findley said he agrees with Brown that the virus was spreading and renewed vigilance among Oregonians was vital.

“I don’t like wearing a mask but I do,” Findley said. “A mask is much more comfortable than a respirator.”

He urged residents in Malheur County to “double down” on precautions even as they are “tired of this.”

Contact Editor Les Zaitz by email at [email protected]

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