The City of Sisters continues to support the efforts implemented by the state to curb the spread of COVID-19. We understand the divisiveness some of these efforts have caused through a political lens. The City is apolitical and works to provide the highest-level of service to our community through evidenced-based public policymaking.

The City works strategically to balance top priorities and goals like livability, public safety, and economic development, and that balance has taken new forms over the previous four months. Working collaboratively with local, county, state, and federal partners has been elevated to a degree unseen previously by the City while managing through this pandemic.

Although we have exercised many powers, adjusted policies, shifted staff time, and amended our budget to react and respond to COVID-19, we also have been reminded of our limitations and constraints as a small municipality. We have explored countless ideas week-by-week, setting some aside as impractical, yet ultimately implementing numerous pragmatic and achievable strategies.

The City continues to work in lockstep with the broader Central Oregon region regarding tourism and visitors. The City is not encouraging or discouraging tourism. The Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs) in the region — including the Sisters Area Chamber of Commerce — have coordinated to reduce tourism marketing while increasing awareness of COVID-19 safety measures.

Clearly there have been many visitors in Sisters this summer and that does not appear to be slowing. This is due to a variety of factors, including the successes of many decades of putting Sisters on the map as a tourist destination especially during the summer. Again, as we have said since the spring, ensuring public safety is the top priority and how to do that while supporting local businesses —finding as safe, prosperous of a balance as possible.

The requirements in place right now pale in comparison to moving backwards to stay-at-home orders and business closures. Overall, our business community has stepped up and worked through the first four months of this pandemic. However, this is a marathon that must be embraced or risk grave consequences to our health, prosperity, and cohesion.

We must continue to rise to the challenge together.