PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Restaurants and bars in Washington County are eager to soon see more business as the county moves to lower risk COVID-19 restrictions.
Washington, Benton, Deschutes, Hood River and Lincoln counties had each vaccinated 65% of residents ages 16 or older as of Monday, according to Governor Kate Brown’s office. All five counties submitted the required equity plans to close gaps in vaccination rates and will be eligible to move to lower risk on Friday.
Bars and restaurants will be allowed to operate at 50% capacity indoors and stay open until midnight. A later closing time will be a welcome change for businesses like Raindrop Tap House in Beaverton.
“The midnight closing is going to be excellent, it’s not a whole lot of fun when you are kicking people out at exactly 11 o’clock, you know, a little extra time gives people more time to finish their drinks,” said owner Mark Foster.
Outdoor dining with up to 300 people is also allowed under the lower risk level. Foster said he’s looking forward to seeing more people getting out and being more active.
“It’s pretty great you don’t have to worry as much,” he said. “We are going to still take precautions, obviously, people are still going to have to mask up in here.”
Washington County resident Joy Stevens is excited about Brown’s decision to move the county to a lower risk level by the end of the week.
“When we do what we are supposed to do that we are rewarded with a lower risk and we get to move on with our lives,” said Stevens. “To get back to our real lives and being people with our community.”
Brown said Oregon will lift all COVID-19 health and safety restrictions once 70% of Oregonians 16 and older get at least one dose of the vaccine.
“I am delighted, maybe we can see an end to this tunnel,” said Stevens.
As of Tuesday, state officials said 59% of those 16 and up have had at least one dose of the vaccine. Multnomah County reached the 65% threshold but was unable to create the equity plan by the deadline. It is likely Multnomah County will go to a lower risk next week.