With limited indoor OK, restaurants, gyms re-think plans


Each restaurant, gym, entertainment venue has decisions to make

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Beginning Friday, restaurants may allow limited indoor dining, fitness studios and entertainment venues can expand capacity and long-term care facilities may allow limited indoor visits.

This is all because nine Oregon counties — including Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas — were re-categorized to High Risk from Extreme Risk in the COVID protocols.


  • This allows restaurants to operate at 25% capacity or 50 people, whichever is smaller, for indoor dining and have a maximum of 75 people, including individual dining pods, for outdoor dining.
  • Indoor recreation, entertainment and fitness facilities can increase to 25% capacity or 50 people, whichever is smaller. For outdoor recreation and fitness, the maximum number of people increases to 75.
  • Long-term care facilities can allow indoor and outdoor visitors.

Even though this is an improvement, there is still cause for concern.

Tri-County Health Officer Dr. Jennifer Vines, December 28, 2020 (KOIN)

“We can take these incremental steps because people have stepped up and done hard work. Our numbers have been dropping to reflect that,” said Regional Health Officer Dr. Jennifer Vines. “And even as we celebrate our successes, and our numbers are heading in the right direction, that trend is fragile.”

Some restaurateurs who feel as if there’s no other choice in order to make ends meet and will reopen as soon as possible.

But the fact there’s still a community spread plus a more contagious variant of the coronavirus, some restaurant workers say the risk of catching COVID in maskless situations is just too high for them to seat people indoors.

Restaurant industry workers said they, like dentists, have the unique business model where all of their customers have to take their mask off.

Nostrana‘s original idea was for waiters not to go up to the tables by using drop tables to maintain distance. But General Manager Natalia Toral said food service gets complicated quickly.

“They’re used to coming in and sitting down and being pampered and taken care of. And as much as we just are dying to do that, we just don’t see that it’s safe for our staff to be near them,” Toral said. “Because at the end of the day, we have to assume everyone’s infected, right?

Owner and Chef Cathy Whims added, “It’s impossible to stay 6 feet away in the kitchen.”

So Nostrana decided they won’t serve indoors until they all get their shots. They’ll continue to do takeout and plan to open outdoor seating when the weather is warmer — and the vaccine rollout is further along.

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