PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Oregon Governor Kate Brown issued Executive Order 20-12 on Monday, which significantly tightens social distancing guidelines.
The order directs everyone in Oregon to stay at home to the maximum extent possible. It also adds a batch of new businesses that must temporarily close to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Gov. Brown issued a statement Monday that said her decision to execute the order was fueled by the crowds that formed over the weekend.
“I started by asking Oregonians to stay home and practice social distancing,” Brown said in the release. “Then I urged the public to follow these recommendations. Instead, thousands crowded the beaches of our coastal communities, our trails, our parks, and our city streets, potentially spreading COVID-19 and endangering the lives of others across the state. Now, I’m ordering it. To save lives and protect our community.”
She spoke with members of the media on a closed call on Monday afternoon and repeated her calls for Oregonians to stay home. “This is an instance that each one of us can make a difference…and truly save lives,” she said.
Responding to questions about confusion over which businesses are closed, Governor Brown said she felt the order was very clear. Any business not ordered to close is allowed to remain open as long as it complies by the social distancing rules.
She said she wrote the order after speaking with governors around the country.
“We’re being more prescriptive than a lot of other states because we wanted people to have clarity,” she said. “The reality is that governors all over the nation are wrestling with how to do this. We were able to learn from other states and watch the confusion that happened.”
These are the new restrictions, including what penalties offenders face:
- All non-essential social and recreational gatherings of individuals are prohibited immediately, regardless of size, if a distance of at least six feet between individuals cannot be maintained. Gatherings of members of the same residential household are permitted.
- It closes and prohibits shopping at specific categories of retail businesses, for which close personal contact is difficult to avoid, such as arcades, barber shops, hair salons, gyms and fitness studios, skating rinks, theaters, and yoga studios.
- It requires businesses not closed by the order to implement social distancing policies in order to remain open, and requires workplaces to implement teleworking and work-at-home options when possible.
- It directs Oregonians to stay home whenever possible, while permitting activities outside the home when social distance is maintained.
- It closes playgrounds, sports courts, and skate parks, among other types of outdoor recreation facilities. Those that remain open are required to strictly adhere to social distancing guidelines.
- It outlines new guidelines for child care facilities, setting limits and rules on amounts of children allowed in care, and outlining that child care groups may not change participants.
- Failure to comply with the order will be considered an immediate danger to public health and subject to a Class C misdemeanor.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler released a statement applauding Brown’s actions.
“I want to thank Governor Brown for taking the necessary steps to slow the spread of COVID-19,” Wheeler said in the release issued late Monday morning. “In the absence of a vaccine, the best defense we have right now is protecting the community from infection with social distancing. The Governor’s statewide Stay Home, Save Lives Order strengthens and reinforces the seriousness of that need.”
Wheeler, along with multiple groups, mayors and local leaders, had recently been vocal about Brown’s lack of enforcement.
Frustration hit a breaking point Saturday when tourists swarmed many coastal cities, ignoring both federal and regional social distancing recommendations. The City of Warrenton declared a state of emergency and passed a resolution to evict tourists. The City of Seaside enacted a state of emergency as well.
In addition, the governor has ordered all Oregon State Parks to close. The Parks Department had previously slated campground closures for April 3, but after new guidance from the governor “and clear signs that travelers are not following advice to avoid full parks,” officials determined the closure was more immediately needed.
The parks will close to the public at the end of the day on Monday. Campers must leave no later than 1 p.m. and day-use areas will be closed at 5 p.m.