‘Really excited’: Columbia County enters Phase 2

Coronavirus

Columbia County and 25 other Oregon counties are now in Phase 2 of Gov. Kate Brown's reopening plan

SCAPPOOSE, Ore. (KOIN) — Columbia County on Friday joined 28 other Oregon counties in entering Phase 2 of Gov. Kate Brown’s reopening plan. 

Venues in Columbia County like movie theaters, bowling alleys and arcades can open their doors again. Restaurants can stay open until midnight and physically distanced groups can meet for civic, social and faith-based gatherings. 

Businesses that can move on to Phase 2 still need to follow sanitation and physical distancing guidelines and limit the number of people entering their buildings. 

Columbia County spent 21 days in Phase 1. For Kellie Smith at a bowling alley in Saint Helens called Oregon Trail Lanes, the next step forward felt like a long time coming. 

“We’ve been like — when is it going to happen in general? It feel like it’s never going to get here but we are really excited. We need to get going,” Smith said. 

Oregon Trail Lanes is a third generation bowling center. The owners hope to open for business on Monday. Since the business could not open during Phase One, the owners have taken this time to make some changes.

“We had to move some of the lottery machines because of the spacing so we moved them into another room. We will have two lottery areas and we changed spacing behind the counters so our employees have spacing too,” said Smith.

Less than 10 miles south in Scappoose, Cinema 7 plans to reopen at 3 p.m. on Saturday. 

While these businesses prepare to welcome back customers, some people are concerned about visitors pouring in from out of town. The next county over — Multnomah County — has yet to even enter Phase 1.  

“As we move into Phase 2, it’s an opportunity for our residents to get out and start eating out and start getting back to a little bit of normal,” said Alex Tardif, the chair of the Columbia County Board of Commissioners. “If we have a huge influx from the [Portland] metro, it really hampers our ability to meet the needs of our community to keep the transmission rate low.” 

Columbia County has not seen a large spike in COVID-19 cases.

“We’ve been able to keep our caseload low which has allowed us to move quicker than Multnomah or Washington County,” Tardif said.

Tardif said about 70% of their population commutes for jobs in Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties so getting people back to work is dependent upon those counties’ respective timelines.

“We are all just kind of working through this together making sure we are keeping people safe healthy and keeping people move forward,” Tardif said.

So while businesses in Columbia County are starting to return to their pre-pandemic state, many residents still can’t get back to work. 

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