County officials extend restrictions on social gatherings

When it comes to getting together indoors or outside for social gatherings, including activities and events, group size restrictions have been extended locally through Aug. 26. The county rule bans social groups larger than 25 from gathering outdoors.

VALE — The Malheur County Court has extended a resolution originally passed in July restricting the size of local social gatherings. and in what manner they can be held as the result of increasing cases of novel coronavirus COVID-19.

The county resolution adds to the statewide ban on indoor social gatherings of 10 or more people, and wearing face coverings at at outdoor gatherings when the minimum of 6 feet of spacing cannot be maintained between people.

In addition to the statewide regulations, the county rule bans social groups larger than 25 from gathering outdoors and those that meet in smaller groups must wear face coverings. These restrictions, originally set to expire Aug. 5, will now go through Aug. 26 unless changed by the County Court or conflict with executive orders issued by the governor.

The county resolution covers social gatherings such as civic, cultural, private gatherings and other events, but does not apply to churches.

The extended resolution came as positive COVID-19 cases throughout the county remain high. Malheur County is one of several counties on a watch list by Gov. Kate Brown because of the number of virus cases.

In another vote, the court agreed to contribute up to $10,000 to for joint legal defense in a possible class-action lawsuit against Oregon counties in regards to foreclosure actions against properties where taxes are not paid for more than three years. The issue is whether the counties should be able to keep any profit when the proceeds from a property sale exceed that of the unpaid taxes. This is currently allowed by state statute, according to Malheur County Council Stephanie Williams.

During discussion it was pointed out the county does not usually recover the cost of cleaning up properties it forecloses on and sells.

The lawsuit was filed in June in Deschutes County Circuit Court, and other counties are now signed up to help with the defense, according to media reports.

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