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Oregon’s Democratic governor is urging state residents to tattle on neighbors to police if they are seen or suspected of inviting too many guests into their homes in violation of COVID-19 mandates.
Gov. Kate Brown’s most recent round of coronavirus restrictions limits the number of people in private residences to six. The rule, issued Friday, applies to the entire state for two weeks, but it applies to Multnomah County, home to Portland, for four weeks.
Brown issued the rule just days ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.
In an interview with KGW8, an NBC affiliate, Brown defended her recommendation that residents call police on social gathering violators as being akin to filing a noise complaint.
“This is no different than what happens if there’s a party down the street and it’s keeping everyone awake,” Brown said. “What do neighbors do [in that case]? They call law enforcement because it’s too noisy. This is just like that. It’s like a violation of a noise ordinance.”
She also said that she’s “following the science” and that it is “incumbent” on all residents to follow the rules.
Known as a “freeze,” the new restrictions were implemented by Brown via executive order as cases of the virus around the state climbed, as they are in most other regions of the country.
Residents are barred from dining out in a restaurant or going to gyms and fitness centers, among other restrictions, KGW8 reported.
The restrictions also apply to private homes, though it’s not at all clear that Brown has the authority to include them. But according to her order, social gatherings in homes are limited to no more than six people.
Violators face up to 30 days in jail, $1,250 in fines, or both.
Critics of Brown’s freeze have accused her of an unconstitutional act. They include Clackamas County Chair-elect Tootie Smith, who told Fox News the order makes state residents “second-rate slaves” in their own homes, KGW8 reported.
Some law enforcement agencies are also pushing back.
“We recognize that we cannot arrest or enforce our way out of the pandemic, and we believe both are counterproductive to public health goals,” the Marion County Sheriff’s office said in a statement on Friday.
But Brown ripped her critics, calling the pushback “irresponsible.”
“These are politicians seeking headlines, not public servants, trying to save lives. My top priority as governor is to keep Oregonians healthy and safe. That’s where I’m focused,” she said.
Brown also said she’s trying to promote an “education-first” effort and hopes that enforcement of the order won’t be necessary, but she added that it has to be on the table.
“This is about saving lives and it’s about protecting our fellow Oregonians,” she said. “We have too many sporadic cases in Oregon. We can’t trace these cases to a particular source. We have to limit gatherings and social interactions.”
On Friday, state health authorities reported a spike of new cases totaling 1,306, which was a record.
Other states have and cities have also announced gathering limits ahead of Thanksgiving, including California, New York, and Chicago.
“My personal advice is you don’t have family gatherings — even for Thanksgiving,” Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said ahead of Election Day.
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