PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Oregon’s two-week-long COVID-19 freeze will lift on Thursday — but many counties will still be under limitations in a new framework announced by Governor Kate Brown last Wednesday.
Gov. Brown said starting Monday, the state is going to categorize counties by risk level: Extreme Risk, High Risk and Lower Risk. Different health measures will apply to each category. Twenty-one counties — including Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington counties — will be considered Extreme Risk in the new classification system.
The 21 counties listed in the Extreme Risk category are allowed to have gatherings of six people at home.
There will also be some changes to how businesses can operate moving forward. For instance, restaurants and bars will be allowed to have limited outdoor dining while retail and grocery stores will be limited to 50% capacity.
Gyms will stay closed, but outdoor fitness can operate with a maximum of 50 people. Religious institutions and funeral homes are limited to 25% capacity. Meanwhile, personal services like salons can continue to operate with health and safety measures.
A full list of guidelines for Extreme Risk counties can be found lower in this article.
OHA officials will examine county data on Monday to determine which risk level each county is in. In each subsequent two-week period, the Oregon Health Authority will examine and publish county data weekly, but county risk levels will not change until the end of the second week. In the first week, counties will be given Warning Week data to prepare for potential risk level changes. In the second week, county risk levels will be updated based on that week’s data.
In a press conference last Wednesday, State Health Officer and State Epidemiologist Doctor Dean Sidelinger said many factors and data like test positivity rates and total case numbers go into deciding what risk level each county is in.
“We believe that by implementing this framework, it will enable us to better manage the impacts of COVID-19 through the winter,” Sidelinger said. The biggest change is that even in counties in extreme risk, restaurants will be allowed to operate outdoor dining at limited capacity.
Clackamas County Public Health Director Philip Mason said the new safety guidelines are “really a call to action.”
“Your individual choices and behaviors and you plan to approach this holiday season really does have an impact on our essential healthcare workers,” he said. “We know COVID fatigue is very real, but it’s still here and we need to do everything we possibly can to prevent our hospitals from being overwhelmed.”
Mason urged people to continue to limit travel outside their homes and avoid social gatherings while continuing to wear face coverings and maintain physical distance.
In counties with extreme risk, the following activities will be allowed, with health and safety protocols in place:
- Social and at-home gatherings with people from outside your household will be limited to a maximum of six people, with a recommended limit of two households.
- Indoor recreation, fitness, and entertainment establishments, including gyms, will remain closed, however, outdoor recreation, fitness, and entertainment activities, including outdoor gym activities, will be allowed, with a maximum limit of 50 people outdoors.
- Retail stores, grocery stores, pharmacies, and indoor and outdoor shopping centers and malls will be limited to a maximum of 50% of capacity, with curbside pick-up encouraged.
- Faith institutions, funeral homes, mortuaries, and cemeteries will be limited to a maximum of 25% of capacity or 100 people indoors (whichever is smaller), or 150 people outdoors.
- Office workplaces will be required to utilize remote work to the maximum extent possible, with public-facing offices closed to the public.
- Personal services businesses will be allowed to continue to operate with health and safety measures in place.
- Long-term care facilities can allow limited outdoor visitation, following established health and safety protocols.
As of November 23, this is where each Oregon county stands: