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Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has announced that she has signed an executive order limiting public gatherings to 25 people as a measure to slow the coronavirus in Oregon.

She also is ordering all restaurants and bars to limit services to carry out delivery only and no on site production.

Brown also asked Oregonians stop purchasing huge quantities of supplies, such as toilet paper.

"Purchase only what you need for now," she said.

Brown said stores are resupply products.

The Governor is also asking that Oregonians utilize social distancing, keeping three to six feet from others.

During the news conference, state authorities announced that the Portland metro area hospitals will act as one large hospital for the virus. Officials said actions taken now will impact the long-term outcome of the virus.

"Oregonians are some of the most resourceful people in the country," Brown said. "I am asking that you support each other and that we come together. I am asking you to do that now to help get Oregon through to the other side. Working together, we are stronger together."

Take these social distance measures personally, they are designed to slow the transmission of the virus," Brown said.

Restaurant reaction

Two St. Helens restaurant operators responded to Gov. Brown's order.

"We're going to do takeout and see how it goes. It's just going to be me, a cook, and my wife, and servers don't have to come in until further notice. I had a feeling that's what she was going to say."

Brad Rakes, Plymouth Pub owner

"We're going to do takeout and try it for a little while and see what it does. I put the menu and phone number on our Facebook page and wrote that we'll be happy to do takeout for you. We're going to close down seating until it's safer."

Shannon Vaerewyck, Bertucci's co-owner

Shortly after her new conference Brown released the following:

Governor Kate Brown today announced new measures to flatten the curve of coronavirus transmission in Oregon, including new orders and guidance on social distancing, an agreement for the Portland metro hospital system to coordinate resources and increase capacity, activation of the state's Unified Command emergency response organizational structure, and a new order to prevent price gouging.

"My goal is to protect the health and safety of Oregon families. Every step we are taking is being made with community input and careful consideration of its impacts," said Governor Brown. "Each action has ripple effects across our state, both on a personal and an economic level. But we can overcome these hurdles in an Oregon Way. By working together, we are stronger, even if it’s in ways we never thought possible."

The new orders on social distancing measures, effective March 17 for at least four weeks, include:

  • A statewide cancelation of all events and gatherings larger than 25 people — exempting essential locations like workplaces, grocery stores, pharmacies, and retail stores. It's additionally recommended that Oregonians avoid gatherings of 10 people or more.
  • Restaurants, bars, and other establishments that offer food or beverages for sale are restricted to carry-out and delivery only with no on-site consumption permitted.
  • Food service at health care facilities, workplaces, and other essential facilities will continue.
  • All other businesses are urged to assess their practices, implement strong social distancing measures, and close their doors temporarily if they cannot put the new guidance in place.

"I know that while these actions will impact Oregon businesses and employees, they will help decrease the rate of infection while bringing state and federal resources up to the same speed as the spread of the virus," said Governor Brown.

The Governor's Coronavirus Economic Advisory Council will convene tomorrow to examine ways to mitigate the impacts of new social distancing measures and anything else that adversely affects Oregon's economy. The council will examine a variety of tools available, including requests to the State Legislature and the federal government.

Governor Brown also announced the formation of two command groups, one to manage our health care system’s resources and the other to manage our state resources. The metro regional COVID-19 hospital response plan will help the health care community to prepare for the expected surge of COVID-19 cases in the coming weeks — a model for a crisis care plan that can be implemented statewide. Working together, hospitals will treat COVID-19 testing resources and personal protective equipment, including gowns, masks, and gloves, as community resources, and work together to increase bed capacity.

The state’s Unified Command emergency response organizational structure, an incident management structure similar to what Oregon would activate during a major Cascadia earthquake, has also been activated. This will fully integrate the Oregon Health Authority’s public health response efforts with the Office of Emergency Management’s efforts to minimize any disruption to critical services in Oregon.

At the request of the Attorney General, Governor Brown declared an abnormal market disruption regarding essential items like hand sanitizer and toilet paper, to prevent price gouging during this public health crisis.

Follow developments here online and in the Wednesday print editions of The Chronicle.


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