Governor Kate Brown lifts many restrictions on COVID-19 in Oregon: Bars and restaurants open for outdoor dining next week

Oregon Governor Kate Brown announced Wednesday that it will ease a number of restrictions it has placed on bars, restaurants, gyms, shops and religious organizations in just a week to curb the unprecedented, uncontrolled spread of COVID-19.

On Thursday, December 3, Brown’s many restrictions will be lifted in Oregon County, which has not yet been so affected by the coronavirus.

But most of Brown’s restrictions are likely to remain in place on Dec. 3 in 21 counties, including Multnomah, Clackamas, and Washington counties, which the state considers an “extraordinary risk” of the virus spreading. Overall, however, the restrictions will not be as severe.

From December 3:

– Brown only allows restaurants and bars to open for al fresco dining in these “extremely risky” counties. The gyms can also offer outdoor fitness activities.

– Religious organizations with a capacity of 25%, or up to 100 people indoors or 150 people, can worship in these “extremely risky” counties. Brown’s current restrictions restrict faith-based organization to gatherings of up to 25 people indoors or 50 people outdoors.

– Social gatherings within households remain limited to six people, with the recommendation that no more than two households gather at a time.

– The capacity of retail stores and shopping centers will be 50%. Currently, the capacity of stores is 75%. This new restriction marks an area where Brown is tightening the requirements.

Brown is loosening restrictions even as the COVID-19 crisis in Oregon continues to worsen. The governor voiced intense criticism and put strong pressure from industry groups to ease its restrictions after announcing them earlier this month as part of a two-week nationwide freeze that runs from 18 November to 2 December.

Multnomah County was expected to be under a four-week freeze and expire in mid-December, but Brown’s newly revised plan appears to override the freeze.

On November 13, the day Brown announced the two-week and four-week freezes, new daily cases of coronavirus reported an average of 900 records a day in Oregon. The spread of the coronavirus only continued on Wednesday, with an average of more than 1,200 cases per day in Oregon.

Check back later for more details on this evolving story.

– Aimee Green; [email protected]; @o_aimee