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OLCC explains decision to suspend speedway's alcohol license

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission suspended Coos Bay Speedway's alcohol license after compliance staff reported an event attended by at least 1,000 people and little masking or social distancing.

Posted: Aug 24, 2020 6:12 PM
Updated: Aug 25, 2020 9:21 AM

COOS BAY, Ore. -- After the Coos Bay Speedway had its alcohol license stripped due to a large event, officials with the Oregon Liquor Control Commission are sharing more details about their decision.

The speedway reportedly violated statewide coronavirus restrictions on August 14. Compliance staff reported an event attended by at least 1,000 people with little masking or social distancing. 

Bryant Haley with OLCC told KEZI 9 News they've had numerous conversations with the owners about the guidelines that need to be met in order to operate. They said the owners told inspectors that they were aware of the guidelines and they were ready to comply. 

Under Phase II of reopening, outdoor events must be limited to 250, and social distancing is required. If unable to maintain distance, attendees must wear masks under state guidelines.

Haley said the OLCC allows more than 250 people at an outdoor event if they meet certain guidelines, such as creating separate bathrooms and serving areas, but the speedway failed to follow those guidelines as well.

“Our inspectors are out there, but they’re not out there with a trenchcoat being evil," said Haley. "They're out there saying, fix this, fix that.”

The speedway will be unable to sell alcoholic beverages indefinitely. They can challenge the suspension via an administrative hearing. However, Haley said they can continue to operate without alcohol, unless the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) orders them not to. 

In a Facebook post, the speedway said: "Well we won’t be selling any beer here at the speedway for a while until we can have a hearing with OLCC. They took our liquor license away for not requiring face masks and face shields on our patrons and employees that can’t maintain the six feet in the distance at our outdoor arena."

KEZI 9 News reached out to the owners for comment, but they declined. 

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