By Associated Press • 

Oregon governor orders closure of bars and restaurants for four weeks

Of The Associated Press

PORTLAND — Gov. Kate Brown on Monday ordered the closure of bars and restaurants in Oregon for four weeks to fight the spread of coronavirus.

“I know Oregonians are some of the most resourceful people in the country and in times of crisis we come together and support each other,“ Brown said. ”I’m asking you to do that now. Isolation and separation from our friends and neighbors is the only way to flatten the curve and get through to the other side.”

Nearly 150 restaurant owners had signed an online petition by Monday asking Brown to order such a shutdown. The owners have suffered a loss of business but cannot qualify for a loss of business insurance until there is a government order to close.

“We fear that by remaining open even in limited capacity, we are amplifying the COVID-19 crisis, not doing our part to flatten the curve or care for the community we so passionately serve. Yet we cannot close our businesses without your support,” the letter read.

Earlier Brown had said that elected officials around the state told her that restaurants provide a lot of meals to the elderly and vulnerable people, especially in rural communities. Those groups of Oregonians are also the most at-risk of infection from the coronavirus.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Monday ordered all restaurants and bars to close down, though restaurants can still offer takeout and delivery services. Many other governors around the country have issued similar bans, including Illinois, Ohio and Massachusetts, and some cities have taken the same actions.

Brown also told reporters in a conference call that a White House “testing czar” said private labs will have the capacity to do 1 million tests this week, 2 million next week and 5 million the week after for COVID-19.

"That's good news,” Brown said.