PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Oregonians are being asked to stick around their towns this holiday weekend as much of the state starts to slowly open up again after months of staying home to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
In a press release on Thursday, Gov. Kate Brown said that while she understands Memorial Day weekend is usually a start to summer adventures around the state, she asked residents, especially those in the Portland metro area, to “keep it local” and avoid traveling for the holiday.
“If you love the coast, stay home for now and plan your trip in the summer. If you love the Columbia Gorge, keep it local this weekend and visit later on. If you love Central Oregon, it’ll still be there in a few weeks,” she said in the statement.
The statement was also signed by 26 other mayors in the state, ranging from the coast to the Gorge, from Willamette Valley’s wine country to southern Oregon, including Tillamook Mayor Suzanne Weber.
Weber told KOIN 6 News that although Tillamook County is in Phase 1 of Brown’s reopening plan, people started gathering at the beach last weekend, and fears even more crowds from Portland will show up for the holiday, despite the order to not travel more than 50 miles.
“It causes a lot of anxious feelings among the locals because they still haven’t gotten over the spring break deluge, where people came in and they emptied our grocery stores, and made it fearful,” the mayor said.
Most Oregon counties have been allowed to start Phase 1 of Brown’s reopening plan, with the exception of Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties. Under Phase 1, counties must demonstrate they are able to meet certain requirements, including establishing contact tracing and having enough personal protective equipment for certain businesses such as salons and personal services, before reopening. Once a Phase 1 county can maintain its number of coronavirus cases for 21 days, it can move onto Phase 2.
Specifics for Phase 2 includes office work resuming, allowing limited nursing home visits and possibly allowing local gatherings of up to 100 with physical distancing.
Brown’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order went into effect on March 23; a state of emergency has been extended until July. More than 3,800 Oregonians have tested positive for the COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, and 145 have died.