Oregon loosening virus restrictions for restaurants, pools for counties in Phase 2


SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon’s Phase 2 coronavirus reopening plan will begin Friday and includes opening pools, zoos, museums and movie theaters, allowing recreational sports, loosening current restaurant restrictions and expanding outdoor gatherings to 100 people.

Gov. Kate Brown held a news conference late Wednesday morning with state health leaders to discuss the next steps ease restrictions from her stay-at-home directives.

“This cautious approach is keeping many vulnerable Oregonians safe during the pandemic,” Brown said. “I know it is frustrating that reopening has to move slowly. I know our economy has taken an extraordinary blow. But, let me be clear, this cautious approach is saving lives all across the entire state of Oregon.”

Thirty-one counties are eligible to apply for Phase 2, including Yamhill County, according to the state’s reopening dashboard.

The governor’s office is reviewing the applications and will announce Thursday which counties can move forward to Phase 2.

Currently, gathering limits are set at 25 people. Under Phase 2, gatherings will be increased to 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors, said Gina Zejdlik, Brown’s deputy chief of staff.

“We are also opening up more sectors in a limited way, like movie theaters and churches can open and expand their occupancy as long as they are in strict compliance with physical distancing, sanitation and occupancy limitation,” Zejdlik said.

Following updated guidance, zoos, museums and outdoor gardens, will be allowed to open statewide.

Recreational non-contact sports, such as pickleball and tennis, will begin again. In addition, collegiate athletes will return to training by mid-June, said Gov. Brown.

Restaurants, which are currently required to close at 10 p.m., will be allowed to stay open until 12 a.m. in counties approved for Phase 2.

The governor is also shifting from requiring people to work remotely to “strongly recommending” it. In order to enter Phase 2, counties must meet Oregon’s safety and preparedness prerequisites for reopening and have been in Phase 1 for at least 21 days.

All counties are currently in Phase 1 except for Multnomah County, which has yet to apply and is taking a more deliberative approach because of its size, density and diversity.

As of Wednesday, at least 159 people in Oregon have died from the coronavirus and nearly 4,400 in the state have tested positive for the disease. Pat Allen, the director of the Oregon Health Authority, said the state currently has the fourth-lowest COVID-19 infection rate in the nation.

“I think it is safe to say our situation is stable,” Allen said. “Oregonians have been doing what they need to do, to keep themselves, their loved ones and their neighbors safe.”

For most, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.


Sara Cline is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues



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