PENDLETON — Some restaurants in Pendleton have shut down their dine-in services in response to rising COVID-19 numbers in Umatilla County.

So far, restaurants such as Oregon Grain Growers Brand Distillery, Rainbow Cafe and Virgil’s at Cimmiyottis have closed down or switched back to takeout only, with Great Pacific considering closing within the next week.

Kelli Bullington, a representative at Oregon Grain Growers, said the company decided to close their dine-in service on July 3 following increasing COVID-19 cases in Umatilla.

“We decided with the uptick of COVID-19 cases in our county and number of travelers we were seeing for the holiday weekend that it was in the best interest of our staff and our customers to reduce risk and roll back to curbside and takeout only,” she said.

Bullington said the company feels that it is best to roll back to curbside and takeout only instead of remaining open for dine-in services and risking a staff member contracting COVID-19.

“From a financial standpoint, being open for curbside and takeout is a better solution than having to shut down the restaurant completely,” she said. “This was a group decision at the Distillery to put the health of our staff, customers, and community first.”

Oregon Grain Growers does not currently have a dine-in reopening date planned.

Restaurants around the country, such as in Florida, Texas and California, have all begun to voluntarily close down restaurants.

In some cases, it’s a result of staff members testing positive for COVID-19, according to Restaurant Hospitality. In other cases, the closures are temporary while they test employees, sanitize facilities and increase health and safety protocols. Other circumstances are leading restaurant owners to limit foot traffic in hopes of preventing any staff member from contracting the virus.

Addison Schulberg, the general manager and son of the owners of Great Pacific, said the company has been discussing shutting down dine-in services as well.

“With the rising numbers we feel like it’s only a matter of time,” he said.

Although shutting down is not state mandated like in other parts of the country, he said switching back to takeout only is out of precaution for his team.

“We’ve been wanting to dial it back to takeout and curbside only for the sake of not creating a high traffic area,” he said. “We have a lot of staff here, the more people we have coming through, the more danger for the staff and for the guests too.”

Schulberg said restaurants are more of a luxury than a necessity and that closing down may be the best decision in regards to everyone’s safety.

Rainbow Cafe and Virgil’s at Cimmiyottis could not be reached for comment and it is not yet confirmed if they closed down for COVID-19-specific reasons.

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