Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has announced new county-by-county restrictions to combat the spread of COVID-19 in Oregon.
The restrictions asses each county’s risk level based on its case rate and test positivity rate over a two-week period and will go into effect following the end of the two-week freeze next week.
Under the new guidance, each county is assigned a risk level ranging from low risk to extreme risk, and each risk level has a corresponding set of health and safety measures to follow. Twenty-one counties in Oregon are currently at an “extreme risk” of spreading COVID-19, including Columbia County.
“Unfortunately, now more than ever is the time we must double down on our efforts to stop COVID from spreading,” Gov. Kate Brown said in a media briefing Wednesday, Nov. 25. “Our situation is extremely dire. Our hospitals are stretched thin and people are dying.”
The restrictions for counties at an extreme risk are similar to the restrictions of the two-week freeze, but there are a few differences, a key one concerns outdoor dining. Under the two-week freeze, all restaurants were limited to providing takeout only, but under the new framework, counties at an extreme risk will be allowed to offer outdoor dining with a maximum of six people from two households total at each table.
However, restrictions on retail are a little stricter under the guidance.
“The hard reality is this: There is no normal while the virus rages unchecked, and the touch points of daily life — going shopping, having dinner with your friends, working out — could make you sick,” OHA Director Patrick Allen said.
The new restrictions become effective on Dec. 3 and each county’s risk level will be assessed every two weeks. Counties are deemed at an extreme risk if there are over 200 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people over 14 days.
The following restrictions will be in place for counties at an extreme risk:
- Both indoor and outdoor gatherings are limited to a maximum of six people from two households total.
- Indoor recreation and fitness centers (gyms, pools, K-12 sports) are not allowed.
- Indoor entertainment centers (aquariums, theaters, museums, event spaces) are not allowed.
- Retail stores are limited to 50% capacity and curbside pickup is encouraged.
- Restaurants can provide outdoor dining with a maximum of 50% capacity and a close time of 11 p.m., though takeout is highly recommended.
- Churches, funeral homes, cemeteries and mortuaries have an indoor maximum of 25% capacity or 150 outdoor.
- Offices are required to close to the public and require remote work if able.
- Outdoor recreation (parks and hiking, K-12 sports, personal training) has a limit of 50.
- Outdoor entertainment (zoos, gardens, theaters or any outdoor entertainment activity) has a limit of 50.
- Personal services are allowed.
- Long-term care facilities can allow only outside visitation.
The restrictions ease for counties at lower risks, and a table explaining the restrictions at each level is available online.
Follow daily pandemic updates here online with in-depth reports in the Wednesday print editions of The Chronicle.