FERNDALE, Wash. — A local grassroots organization has built a growing following of businesses who have been forced to temporarily reduce capacity or close their businesses because of COVID-19-related mandates by Washington State Governor Jay Inslee and enforced by the State Department of Labor and Industry and the State Liquor and Cannabis Board.
The group assembled a panel of experts to provide information and field questions from business, primarily restaurant, owners and decision-makers during a community forum held yesterday, January 8th.
The event was organized by a group calling itself “We Will Whatcom” and they have hosted and participated in several other public events recently according to their website.
In the time leading up to the panel discussion, several people from local businesses spoke to the audience to share their hardships and challenges as their businesses have been forced to close or reduce their levels of service because of the mandates. In addition, Whatcom County Sheriff Bill Elfo phoned-in to provide a law enforcement perspective and to answer questions. Politicians Doug Ericksen, Ben Elenbaas and Kyle Christensen were given time to speak at the end of the forum.
The forum was live-streamed and recorded and is provided below in its entirety with permission of the organizers. The following table provides the points in the video to begin hearing the different speakers.
Speaker Time Opening by Andrew Gustafson 9:20 Joe Murphy 16:05 Sheriff Bill Elfo 21:45 Amberleigh Brownson 29:30 Unnamed business owner 33:15 Miguel Ramos 42:10 Nicole McDonald 47:40 Mary Gibb 53:15 Panel discussion 56:10 State Senator Doug Ericksen 1:42:50 County Commissioner Ben Elenbaas 1:51:40 Sumas Mayor Kyle Christensen 2:00:30
The panel was composed of Mark Harmsworth, director of the Washington Policy Center’s Center for Small Business, Donna Rex with the Constitutional Law Group and Jason Hoff with the Washington State Bowling Proprietors Association. Whatcom County Health Department Director Erika Lautenbach was reported to have been invited to sit on the panel but did not attend.