PORTLAND, Ore. — At a press conference on Thursday morning, Governor Brown introduced the state's latest specific guidelines for counties and businesses that are looking to enter "Phase One" of reopening on May 15. For harder hit counties, it may be some time before they are able to implement those same guidelines.
“Today, thanks to millions of Oregonians following the strict physical distancing orders I put in place, I am happy to say these sacrifices have prevented as many as 70,000 COVID-19 infections, and 1,500 hospitalizations in Oregon,” said Governor Brown. “We are on track in meeting the goals that doctors and public health experts have laid out for us. And that means we now have the opportunity to begin rebuilding a safe and strong Oregon.”
OHA Director Patrick Allen during today's press conference: "Keeping Oregon safe and strong depends on all of us. Oregonians prevented infections and saved lives by adhering to the Governor’s stay home orders and the closure of schools and non-essential businesses." pic.twitter.com/rfZeCU222O— OR Health Authority (@OHAOregon) May 7, 2020
By the end of this week, all of the counties in southern Oregon expect to have submitted their individual plans for reopening to the Governor's office for approval. Multiple county officials cited the Governor as having said that the soonest they could reopen would be on May 15, a date confirmed by the Governor's presentation.
Until Thursday, those counties were operating on somewhat vague and still-evolving guidelines for what Phase One would entail — what businesses would be able to open and what physical distancing and sanitation protocols they would be required to follow.
Though the plan includes detailed requirements for different sectors, here are the brief takeaways for what Phase One will look like when counties are approved to reopen:
- Restaurants and bars - Open for dine-in as long as physical distancing of six feet between customers (of different households) is observed. Employees must wear cloth or disposable face coverings. Businesses must end dine-in by 10 p.m.
- Personal care (salons, barbers, massage clinics) - Open for appointments only, with a pre-appointment health check required, in addition to a customer log for possible contact tracing. Six feet of physical distancing between clients. Workers must wear face coverings, capes, and smocks, and clients will have to do the same "depending on the services provided."
- Gyms and fitness centers - Open for limited occupancy. Physical distancing and sanitation measures required.
- Local gatherings - Tentatively allowed for groups of up to 25 with physical distancing, as long as no large amount of travel is involved.
According to Oregon Health Authority director Patrick Allen, it's "safe to assume that the majority of Oregon counties" will likely be ready to enter Phase One by next Friday, though he claimed that OHA had not yet received any applications for reopening.
Counties will be required to remain in Phase One for at least 21 days before they can possibly move on to Phase Two. Restrictions could be re-imposed if the county fails to meet contact tracing requirements, if positive COVID-19 cases spike, or hospitals start to see a significant uptick in severe cases.
"Let me be very clear: these choices are not easy; as we reopen parts of our economy, we know and expect that there may be an uptick in new coronavirus cases," said Governor Brown. "That’s why we have to be prepared in every single corner of the state, because as we’ve seen, an outbreak can occur anywhere."
Under a still-evolving plan for Phase Two, concerts, festivals, and other large gatherings will still be canceled or "significantly modified through at least September." However, workplaces will have the option of increasing in-office work, local gatherings of up to 100 may be allowed with physical distancing in place, and limited visits to nursing homes will be allowed.
According to the state's plan, Phase Three — essentially a return to "normal" — will not happen until a reliable treatment or vaccine has been found. This means that large gatherings are likely to remain off the table for the forseeable future.
For more specific information about the state's guidelines, follow the links to the different state documents below:
- Three necessary health signs for reopening Oregon
- General guidance for the public
- Phase One reopening guidance for employers
- Phase One reopening guidance for retail
- Phase One reopening guidance for restaurants
- Phase One reopening guidance for outdoor recreation
- Phase One reopening guidance for personal services
This is a developing story and will be updated with more details as they emerge.