Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced Phase 1 opening guidelines at a news conference this morning. She also announced that live sporting events, festivals, concerts, and large gatherings “should be canceled through September.”
The governor could reopen rural counties as early as Friday May 15. Wallowa County, whose application was submitted Monday, May 6, is likely to be one of them, said Wallowa County commissioner Susan Roberts.
County applications will be reviewed beginning on Friday, May 8, with the intention of appropriate approvals for opening issued on May 15. The comments came at a press conference held late this morning.
“Physical distancing is and will remain a part of out lives for many months to come."
Brown said she was announcing the first phase of “a step-by-step opening of Oregon,” and that that her guidelines and opening approval, guided by science, would take into account “the unique ways the virus has impacted different parts of Oregon.”
“There is some difficult news to share,” Brown said. “Large gatherings, including live sporting events with audiences, concerts, festivals, and conventions will not be able to return until we have a reliable treatment or prevention like a vaccine. The Oregon health authority is advising that any large gathering, at least through September should either be canceled or significantly modified.”
“I know this is really, really hard, Brown said. “I too will miss visiting our fairs and festivals this year.”
Brown did note that some fair events, including livestock judging, might continue, but that rules for social distancing and group size would have to be followed.
The guidelines establish detailed prerequisites for what any county that wants to open must meet. “They are all attainable,” Brown said.
For counties that meet states requirements, three sectors would be able to open following specific safety guidelines:
“Restaurants and bars for sit down service but only with adequate physical distancing and the wearing of face coverings by employees, Brown said. “We encourage customers to wear face coverings as well, but not while they are eating.” Bars and restaurants will have to close at 10 p.m. “We know that people tend to loose track of physical distancing sometime later in the evening, especially at bars,” said Oregon Health Authority director Pat Allen.
“Personal care businesses such as salons, Barber shops, and gyms may open in a limited way,” Brown said . “We will require physical distancing and increased sanitation, as well as a series of additional guidelines, like wearing face coverings and gloves at salons.” Salons must serve customers by appointment only, and maintain records for contact tracing.
Retail businesses can open using physical distancing, instituting one-way traffic in isles and using proper signage to indicate this.
Gatherings may increase to 25, again with physical distancing.
“Some counties will be able to move into the phase 1 space before others,” Brown said. Those counties would likely be rural counties with low numbers of COVID-19 cases.
“Once in Phase 1, each county must remain in that phase for a minimum of 21 days so we can monitor whether there’s a unsafe uptick in the virus.” Brown said.
If after 21 days the county has not seen an increase in hospitalizations and ER admissions for COVID-like illness, then we will assess whether they can move into Phase 2. Details of phase 2 will be finalized shortly. Our expectations are to allow for somewhat larger gatherings, and more work in office settings.
Wallowa County submitted its final plan for reopening on Monday, May 4, said Commissioner Susan Roberts. The plan, which includes individual reopening plans written by a number of businesses, should meet all of the state’s criteria, and in a phone call earlier today, Roberts talked with Brown who said that Wallowa County's application looked good.
However, during the 11 a.m. news conference, OHA director Allen stated that as yet, no applicantions had been received from any county. "We are checking for clarification to see what that means," Roberts said.