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The Columbia Press

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What gives them the right to take away our rights?

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Americans love their freedom. Take some of it away and there will be angry protests.

Yet the president of the United States, the state, the county and the cities are allowed to take some freedoms away during times of crisis or emergency.

In Oregon, cities or counties have authority under Oregon Revised Statutes Chapter 401 to declare a state of emergency.

Cities and counties long have been required to have an adopted emergency operations plan and a designated emergency services coordinator. In Warrenton, the city manager is the coordinator.

If the entity has completed all of the above, it may take action deemed necessary to prevent, minimize, respond to or recover from an emergency.

Violating the orders is a Class C misdemeanor with sentences of 30 days in jail, a fine up to $1,250, or both.

Oregon State Police provided a fact sheet for those questioning the authority.

Is this martial law?

No, not even close. There are no curfews and a person’s movements are not restricted. While details are offered in the order relating to social distancing, specific business closures and nonessential social gatherings, Oregonians’ movements are generally unrestricted.

Do I need documentation from my employer deeming me essential?

No. … The affected businesses are those that would make close contact difficult or impossible to avoid.

Do I need a special placard on my vehicle when going to work or if I drive for work? Could I be pulled over for driving on the highway?


If my business is closed, can I still go to work if my employer makes me?

While the order prohibits the public from congregating at a closed business, the employer may still have work to do on site. As long as employees are not conducting business that’s prohibited by the executive order, it is OK to still be at the worksite.

Are rest areas open?

Yes, generally. Some rest areas are connected to parks, which are currently closed to comply with the executive order.

Are police arresting or ticketing people in public or in violation of the governor’s executive order?

People who violate the governor’s order in an emergency declaration could be arrested or cited, which is a C misdemeanor, the lowest level of criminal conduct designation. All Oregon law enforcement are united on the premise that police action is extremely undesirable and we hope to educate Oregonians if congregating in violation of the order. Citation or arrest would be an extreme last resort if a person failed to comply with the lawful direction of a police officer.

What about my kids that may congregate in a place without my permission, like a skate park?

Police know our children don’t often take their parent’s advice and may ignore direction when away. Like adults found to be congregating in a location, officers will likely approach the youths and educate them on the order. Citations and arrest are extremely unlikely, reserved for only the most extreme circumstances.

Can I still go hiking and fishing? Can I take a walk on the beach?

Yes. Oregonians can still recreate outdoors, if their recreational activity involves no contact with others and they can maintain appropriate social distancing, which is defined as 6 feet or more from others. Oregonians and visitors to our state should be aware most campgrounds and boat ramps are closed, so you should research your plans before recreating.

Should I call 911 if I see people congregating?

No. The level of this violation is not for reporting police, fire or medical emergencies through 911. People may choose to self-educate their fellow Oregonians or, if a large gathering is noted, they may call their respective police agency’s nonemergency number.

In Warrenton, that number is 503-861-2235. In Astoria and unincorporated parts of Clatsop County, the number is 53-325-8661.

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