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Restaurants say mask rules being followed

Restaurants in downtown Medford said Wednesday most customers are complying with rules on masks and social distancing, a week after Gov. Kate Brown’s statewide order on face coverings in indoor public spaces took effect.

“Above and beyond, people have been awesome about it,” says Rachel Koning, marketing and events coordinator at the Common Block Brewing Company, 315 E. Fifth St.

Koning says the vast majority of people coming to eat at the restaurant bring masks. Those who forget theirs or do not have one can dine in the outdoor seating area, which has room for 60 people. “That’s made a big difference,” she says.

Outdoor seating has been a big help for other locations downtown. Nora LaBronca, co-owner of The Downtown Market, 123 W Main St., says most patrons request patio seating because face coverings are not required outdoors. She has not had to enforce mask and social distancing rules for customers inside. “We haven’t had to have that yet, but we don’t expect it,” she says.

Carrie Garcia-McPheeters, co-owner of BrickTowne Brewing, 44 S. Central Ave., says customers with medical conditions preventing them from wearing masks can sit at one of their three outdoor tables.

“We’ve not had much pushback,” she says about the rules, adding servers can give out blue surgical masks for customers who come without face coverings. According to Garcia-McPheeters, few have complained about the safety rules.

At Grape Street Bar and Grill, 31 S. Grape St., bartender Samantha Rix says most patrons have not pushed back against the rules. “I’ve only had to lay down the law — so to speak — a couple of times.” Rix says.

When service picks up at night, Rix says she makes sure people who want to dance stay at their tables. “That’s the worst of it, It hasn’t been that bad.”

Gov. Brown announced her order on face coverings for indoor public spaces last week ahead of the July 4 weekend — a response to a recent spike of COVID-19 cases in Oregon.

Theresa Delany, co-owner of Portal Brewing, 100 E. Sixth St., says she closed her pub last Thursday because of the rise in cases. “We want to be careful with ourselves and our customers,” Delaney says, adding that her patrons have been respectful of the mask and social distancing rules.

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission said in a press release Tuesday that inspectors over the weekend had found scattered instances of noncompliance with social distancing and face covering measures in the Medford region. According to the release, OLCC visited 48 businesses in the area and gave verbal instructions to 10 businesses related to OLCC violations.

Violations against social distancing and mask rules will be forwarded to Oregon OSHA.

None of the restaurants interviewed for this report say they were aware of any spot checks occurring at their restaurant.

LaBronca says she wants everybody to do the right thing and comply with the measures to keep COVID-19 cases down.

“We’re all just hoping we don’t go backwards.”

Reach reporting intern Hans Boyle at 971-201-0114 or hboyle@rosebudmedia.com.

file photoDilligaf's Bar and Grill manager Michelle Norris prepares for reopeing.