- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 5, 2020

An Oregon sheriff announced Monday that he will not cite any nonessential businesses that choose to reopen in defiance of a statewide lockdown, saying people should be able to use their own “common sense” when it comes to their lives and their livelihoods.

“As a rural county of Oregon we have been able to take care of ourselves and our families for years, and that is no different today,” Crook County Sheriff John Gautney said in a statement.

“If a business decides to open, that is a decision the business owner makes. If customers choose to shop with that business that is that person’s choice,” he said. “We are a free society and able to make decisions based on common sense. I see large businesses open every day with lots of customers and they are using safety precautions if they choose. The point is they have the right to choose. If the large stores can accommodate the large number of customers and operate effectively, why are we not letting the small business operate under the same guidelines?”

Sheriff Gautney said Crook County residents had been “terribly” affected by the statewide shutdown, despite his county only reporting a single case of COVID-19 and zero deaths.

“Crook County has been very good at maintaining our ability to function, in the most part, by doing what we have always done; using our common sense,” the sheriff said, PJ Media reported. “There have been many businesses in our community that have been terribly harmed by the closing of the businesses by the State. In some of the more populated areas of Oregon, that might be needed, but not in Crook County.”

Sheriff Gautney said his approach to violators of the state orders will be to educate them of the rules instead of enforcement. He also announced that his office would reopen for business Tuesday, with some restrictions in place to ensure people’s safety.

“I believe in supporting the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the state of Oregon and the laws thereof. I also try to apply common sense in the application of those laws,” he said.

His announcement came after Oregon Gov. Kate Brown on Monday signed an executive order extending the state of emergency through July 6. The stay-at-home order, which is separate from the state of emergency, shuttered all nonessential businesses and does not have a designated end date.

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