Brown OKs Marion, Polk counties for Phase 1 reopening


Both counties can begin opening some businesses and services

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Marion and Polk counties can start reopening on Friday. 

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced Wednesday both counties met the criteria to enter Phase 1 of reopening. The criteria include ramping up contact tracing efforts and testing for vulnerable populations.

Starting Friday, May 22, several types of businesses and services including restaurants, bars, gyms and malls can begin to reopen while still adhering to protocols including physical distancing, sanitation, face coverings and crowd control. Gatherings of up to 25 people are allowed with physical distancing requirements.

The counties must remain in Phase 1 for at least three weeks before they can be eligible to move forward. 

Marion County Commission Chair Colm Willis said the county added 20 contact tracers within the last week.

“It’s a relief for a lot of our small businesses,” Willis said. “Our family-owned restaurants and hair salons, hair dressers—a lot of folks—independent contractors, haven’t seen a paycheck in a couple of months.”

Willis said the county has also increased testing efforts.

“Our testing has gone up quite a bit and in particular we have focused on specific places,” he said. “We tested an entire group of farm worker housing; we focused our testing on long-term care facilities.”

Willis said the county has been developing plans to test farm workers when they arrive and make sure they can maintain their spacing. Masks, gloves and other equipment must also be provided to keep them safe. The commissioner said they also delivered 15,000 masks to local chambers to hand out to businesses as they reopen.

“One of the things we said is we worked really hard to get open and now we have to work really hard to stay open,” said Willis.

Cong Huynh, the owner of the Hungry Lion restaurant in Woodburn, said he’s ready to fling open his doors on Friday after cooking takeout orders for the past several weeks. He said the restaurant has seen about a 40% decrease in business.

“I’m just ready for it and I”m ready to be reopened again and get our old customers to stop by and get lunch and dinner.”

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