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An Open Oregon rally at Plaza Square in the Old Town District of St. Helens drew approximately 75 people Saturday afternoon, Jan. 9.

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The feature speaker, Sandy Mayor Stan Pulliam, told The Chronicle following his address that the movement's message is simple.

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"These business owners in these small communities throughout Oregon are really to the end of their rope and it is time that they open," he said.

Pulliam said the businesses should reopen under high requirements one level beneath the governor's mandate with proper face coverings, social distancing and sanitation.

"What we don't understand is where is the science that shows that these local business owners contribute to the spread of COVID more than big box stores," Pulliam said.

According to Pulliam, Gov. Kate Brown has not provided such information. He said the followers of Open Oregon will continue to support business operators who decide to defy the state mandated health and safety requirements and decide to reopen.

"We have to support these main street businesses throughout Oregon," he said. "They are the heart and soul of our community."

Gov. Kate Brown issued the following statement on Friday concerning the reopening push.

I'm hoping that the majority of Oregon and our businesses will abide by these safety protocol and do what's right to keep themselves safe, family members safe, and community members safe," Brown said.

St. Helens Police reported no incidents at the Saturday rally.

Jason Brandt, president and CEO of the Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association provided this statement following The Chief's request for reaction.

"Restaurants in Oregon located in extreme risk counties as defined by the Oregon Health Authority have officially reached their breaking point. The economic restrictions putting employers out of business is the reality we face and those economic restrictions are the law here in Oregon.

"Opening up business locations outside of applicable law will result in significant fines. Defying the law is not the answer. Getting past the ongoing health emergency in Oregon is."

Join the conversation. Do you believe business owners, including restaurants, should follow the Open Oregon push and reopen? Post your comments with this story.

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