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Okanogan County restricts overnight accommodations

Exceptions made in some instances

Hotels, motels, and campgrounds in Okanogan County have been ordered to operate under restrictions following the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order from the state, until at least May 4, in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

An April 14 resolution by the county commissioners and the county public health officer said that the closure applies to hotels, motels, bed-and-breakfasts, timeshares, campgrounds, RV parks and other short-term rentals.

Commissioners passed a new resolution April 21 to amend that language to say those businesses were “restricted” and not “closed.”

Resolution 51-2020 lists exceptions for those who were living in one of those places on or before March 17, those working in such facilities, those working directly against the coronavirus pandemic, such as health care workers, as well as those whose jobs require them to travel to Okanogan County to provide services or make deliveries, such as truck drivers.

The resolution states that county commissioners and the health officer felt it was necessary to limit public tourism in the county to help stop the spread of the virus.

“It is important that the spread of the virus be slowed to safeguard the public and protect healthcare resources,” the resolution reads.

Commissioner Chris Branch said during the April 21 meeting held via Zoom that “we don’t want people coming [into the county] without some kind of screening that protects us from them bringing the virus to our county.”

Branch also said the commissioners weren’t sure what the impact to the hospitality industry would be.

State records available on the Department of Revenue’s website indicate that in April, May and June of 2019, taxes were collected on nearly $1.9 million in business from the lodging industry in Okanogan County.

As of Monday night, 14 people in Okanogan County had tested positive for COVID-19, according to Okanogan County Health, and 13 had recovered.

Scott Hunter also reported for this story


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