Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced Wednesday that she’s loosening many restrictions she had placed just a week ago on bars, restaurants, gyms, stores and religious organizations in order to stem the unprecedented, out-of-control spread of COVID-19.
Starting Thursday, Dec. 3, many of Brown’s restrictions will be lifted in Oregon counties that haven’t been as hard hit by the coronavirus.
But most of Brown’s restrictions will likely still remain in place Dec. 3 in 21 counties — including Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington counties — that the state deems at “extreme risk” of rampant viral spread. The restrictions overall, however, won’t be as stringent.
Starting Dec. 3:
• Brown will allow restaurants and bars to reopen for outdoor dining only in these “extreme risk” counties. Gyms also will be allowed to hold outdoor fitness activities.
• Religious organizations will be able to hold services at 25% capacity or with up to 100 people indoors or 150 people outdoors in these “extreme risk” counties. Brown’s current restrictions limit faith-based organization to gatherings of no more than 25 people indoors or 50 people outdoors.
• Social gatherings within households will continue to be limited to six total people, with a recommendation that no more than two households gather at a time.
• Retail stores and malls will be limited to 50% capacity. Currently, stores are limited to 75% capacity. This new restriction will mark one area where Brown is tightening requirements.
Brown is loosening restrictions even as the COVID-19 crisis in Oregon continues to worsen. The governor had fielded intense criticism and been under intense pressure from industry groups to ease her restrictions after she announced them earlier this month as part of a two-week statewide freeze that is in effect Nov. 18 – Dec. 2.
Multnomah County was expected to be under a four-week freeze, set to expire in mid-December, but it appears that Brown’s newly revised plan will override the freeze.
On Nov. 13, the day Brown announced the two-week and four-week freezes, new daily cases of the coronavirus were averaging a record-setting 900 per day in Oregon. Wednesday, the coronavirus’ spread had only continued to balloon, with Oregon averaging more than 1,200 cases per a day.
Brown will hold a press conference at 1:30 p.m. to outline the details of her new plan and restrictions. The public can watch a livestream here.