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Hermiston parking lot

After Kate Brown announced restaurants will be able to offer outdoor dining under all levels of COVID-19 restrictions, the city of Hermiston is offering up the use of its parking lots to downtown restaurants.

HERMISTON — After Gov. Kate Brown announced restaurants will be able to offer outdoor dining under all levels of COVID-19 restrictions, the city of Hermiston is offering up the use of its parking lots to downtown restaurants.

Restaurants near municipal lots will be able to use portions of those lots to set up seating, fencing, canopies, space heaters and other amenities for outdoor dining. While they will be required to sign a rental agreement to use the space, they will not be charged a fee, according to a news release from the city.

The city is also donating $15,000 to the Hermiston Downtown District to help businesses with the cost of setting up outdoor seating, and is working with the district to make all restaurant owners in the downtown district aware of the opportunity.

“Our downtown businesses and restaurants are part of what makes this community special, and it’s our priority to make sure they have every chance to succeed in these difficult times,” Mayor David Drotzmann said in a statement. “As they get creative and find new ways to serve their customers, I encourage residents to make an effort to shop local and support our friends and neighbors.”

On Wednesday, Nov. 25, the governor announced that when the two-week “freeze” for gatherings and businesses ends on Thursday, Dec. 3, the state will be going into a new, four-level system of restrictions based on a county’s calculated risk. Umatilla County is one of 21 counties that will start out on the highest level, “extreme risk,” in which restaurants will be restricted to takeout, delivery and outdoor seating only.

The city has stated that restaurants can use its parking lots for free for as long as Umatilla County remains restricted to outdoor dining.