Fear in a pandemic

There was some local comments on social media about our business and Claire and I crafted this statement in response:

We are all afraid of this virus that has changed so many lives throughout the world. My wife and I are committed to ensuring the health and safety of our staff, our neighbors, and the community that we strive to be a part of. Frankly, we assume that every guest and diner who passes through our doors has COVID and we are following strictest CDC sanitation and safety protocols to keep ourselves, our guests, and neighbors safe. We are also committed to helping our community follow the state mandated guidelines to open back up and get back to business. (This is part of the Phase 1 state and county plan to open up.)

When we were contacted by North Central Public Health District (NCPHD) about our participation isolating folks as required in phase 1, we assumed that The Dalles hotels would follow the law and fill this need. That was a misplaced assumption and we were called upon to assist the community to isolate an individual who had no other option.

Please remember the state and federal laws are clear: hotels cannot discriminate due to protected status; that includes health issues. We isolated the guest from staff and other customers and redoubled our sanitation protocols ensuring there was no threat to the community at large.

The guest only stayed 2 days. Remember people are self-quarantining voluntarily to keep family and other loved ones safe and may not even be sick.  The Oregon Labor Secretary is investigating what happened in The Dalles and we believe that we will not be called on to help the county again.

Since we bought the hotel five years ago, Claire and I have run our business a little differently than others. Our mission and values include a focus on supporting our community as well as providing award-winning hospitality to all. We have demonstrated that by supporting local causes like the museum, Women in Ag and the school among many others. We buy from Azure Standard, Kramer’s and We3 Deli as much as we can. We provide more than $100,000 in wages to local employees and offer a safe and caring workplace.  

As engaged community members we are grieved that our decision is upsetting to some of you. We also appreciate the outpouring of support. Since we are community-minded we are taking your concerns to heart and are deliberating our best next steps. We don’t want to break the law, and we don’t want to alienate anyone, either. It’s a tough place to be, but this pandemic has challenged us all in ways we never expected.

If you want more info and facts, stay tuned for a link to the detailed presentation I gave to Dufur City Council.

Since this pandemic was announced our business has changed dramatically. Within a week, we went from preparing for a busy spring to nearly nothing for an unknown length of time. More than a dozen events and weddings have been cancelled and we have lost nearly $50,000 in revenue so far this season with no end in sight. But if you think we’re doing this for the money, think again. We charged the government rate for 2 nights. Not exactly a windfall.