Klickitat County Sheriff Bob Songer doubled-down on his stance on the statewide COVID-19 restrictions, calling Governor Jay Inslee’s latest round of COVID-19 restrictions “illegal and unconstitutional,” and reminded citizens that sheriff’s deputies will not be enforcing the guidelines in a Nov. 18 announcement. 

Songer also requested business owners who “feel they are being harassed by (Washington State Department of Labor & Industries) agents or the Washington State Liquor & Cannabis (Board) Agents” to call his personal cell phone.

“If the citizens and business owners of Klickitat County choose to follow Governor Inslee’s COVID-19 restrictions, that is their right to do so,” Songer wrote in the announcement. “However, if the citizens and business owners of Klickitat County choose NOT TO FOLLOW Governor Inslee’s COVID-19 restrictions, that is their Constitutional Right to do so.”

Inslee’s proclamation, which went into effect Nov. 16 and will last for four weeks until Dec. 14, bans indoor dining and various other indoor services and prohibits in-person gatherings with people outside your household “unless they (a) quarantine for fourteen days (14) prior to the social gathering; or (b) quarantine for seven (7) days prior to the social gathering and receive a negative COVID-19 test result no more than 48-hours prior to the gathering.”

Songer said in an interview with Columbia Gorge News he included the statement directed to business owners because “you got a lot of small business owners scared to death that they’re losing their businesses, with diminished capacity… And I think it’s a legitimate concern.”

Asked what he believes harassment by state agents would look like, Songer cited, “If they’re making unusual stops, more frequent than before the COVID-19 crackdown ... it could be viewed as harassment.”

In a scenario where a business owner calls because they feel harassed by state agents, Songer said he would tell them to “be cooperative, so I can make contact while they’re still there and be a witness to what’s going on.

“If it appears that they’re harassing folks, I’ll be an observer to that. If a business owner files suit then I’d be a witness,” Songer said. Asked if that situation has occurred before, he said he could think of one example from when a business owner was given a warning by state compliance officers. They had not written a citation, he said.

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