EUGENE, Ore. — On Monday, Gov. Kate Brown issued a new executive order enforcing social distancing. Here are some common questions answered about what it means for Oregonians’ daily life.
Why is the governor doing this?
On Friday, the governor directed Oregonians to “stay home” to try and halt the spread of COVID-19 across the state. That weekend, hundreds of people instead flocked to the coast and trails for the start of spring break.
Can I still go to work?
Unlike other states’ orders for similarly extreme levels of social distancing, Oregon’s does not specify “essential workers,” but instead allows many (though not all) businesses the option to keep operating if they make adjustments.
The order says any employer that can have its employees telework and work from home, needs to. When this isn’t an option, businesses can stay open, but need to designate someone to “implement and enforce social distancing policies,” meaning employees would maintain six feet of distance from others.
“If you cannot telecommute, if you can not social distance safely, you need to shut down,” Brown said Monday.
What businesses are explicitly closed indefinitely?
The order lists 32 different types of businesses closed until further notice where social distancing is essentially impossible. This includes barber shops and hair salons, hookah bars, malls (indoor and outdoor), gyms, spas, tattoo and piercing parlors, theaters and more.
The governor is ordering any businesses that can’t implement social distancing shut down, or the state will take action to close those businesses itself, Brown said.
What businesses still are open?
Some essential businesses will still be open for people, such as grocery stores, health care offices and pharmacies, though these businesses also are encouraged to implement social distancing. Restaurants and other places that serve food and drinks are allowed to continue operating as long as they offer a take out or delivery option. People cannot eat at the restaurant.
Can I have friends over as long as we stay in the house?
No. The order prohibits gatherings of any size, if people are unable to keep a distance of at least six feet away from each other. Brown also noted in a tweet Monday that people should not get together with friends (even for drinks or dinner) or have playdates for children. Oregonians should only be having close contact with people who live in their household.
What if I need groceries or to go to the doctor?
There are a few instances where people are OK to leave home. Getting groceries or taking care of health needs (for you or pets) are fine reasons to leave, though it should be limited as much as possible and people still should practice social distancing when they go out.
What activities am I allowed to do outside?
People are allowed to do outside recreation such as hiking, walking and other activities, so long as they are non-contact and can maintain the six feet or more of social distance.
However, the new order also immediately prohibits use of all playground equipment, pools, skate parks, outdoor sports courts. It also allows the state Parks and Recreation Department to close any property or facility it sees fit.
Can I go to the beach or take a roadtrip?
No. Beyond going to work if they must, people are directed to only travel for: food or shelter, education, health care or emergency services, essential business or government services, law enforcement or courts, and the care of family, other vulnerable people and pets.
What about child care?
Child care facilities are allowed to keep operating, as long as there are 10 children or fewer cared for as a group each day, and the classroom cannot be accessed by children outside of that group. Providers must also prioritize caring for children of first responders, emergency workers and health care professionals, followed by “critical operations staff and essential personnel.”
What if I disregard this?
If businesses don’t comply with the order, the state will close that business until they show they are in compliance.
People who violate the order will be considered “an imminent threat” and creating “an immediate danger to public health” and face a Class C misdemeanor, according to the order.
When will this end?
It’s unclear. Brown said Monday that she is hoping to get updated information later this week about the impact of the social distancing measures that have been put in place, but the state is unsure how long this ‘stay home’ order will last.