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Oregon, Washington celebrate reopening after more than a year of COVID-19 restrictions

On Wednesday, both states dropped most restrictions involving mask wearing and physical distancing.

PORTLAND, Oregon — The governors of Oregon and Washington each celebrated the reopening of their respective states Wednesday after more than a year of COVID restrictions.

Both states no longer require face masks or physical distancing in most places.  

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown spoke at a special ceremony at Portland’s Providence Park, home of the Timbers and Thorns professional soccer teams. She thanked everyone who worked so hard to help the state endure the worst of the pandemic.

“And of course, we are celebrating today that Oregon is 100% open fully open!” Brown said.

RELATED: Oregon reopens, ending mask mandate and most COVID restrictions

In Tacoma, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee spoke at an event in a park that featured ceremonial dancers.

At the end of the ceremony, Inslee and others gathered on stage and help display a huge flag that read "Washington Ready."

“We got a little flag, I’ll tell you this — this flag says Washington is ready," Inslee said. "We are ready to open our restaurants. We are ready to open our theaters. We’re ready to go to the ball games. We’re ready to reopen Washington. We’re ready to keep getting vaccines! ... We are ready Washington."

RELATED: Washington state reopens Wednesday, ending more than a year of COVID restrictions

Back at Providence Park, hundreds of guests invited by the Oregon governor's office sat shoulder to shoulder without masks, a powerful sign that Oregon is moving past the crisis of the pandemic.

Among those in attendance were Hector Calderon, Oregon's first known COVID patient.

Oregon Health Authority director Patrick Allen asked for one minute of silence to remember those who did not survive the virus.

“Lets bow our heads for a moment of silent memory for every Oregonian we’ve lost to COVID-19,” he said. The group sat quietly for 60 seconds, many with heads bowed.

Ruikayah Adams from the Meyer Memorial Trust recalled how leaders from Black and brown communities confronted the governor and OHA early in the pandemic, worried their members would face the most harm from the virus.

“We were critical, we were angry, we were afraid. And they listened, they showed patience in the face of fear and outrage and you know what? They responded,” Adams said.

Gov. Brown reminded the crowd that Oregon is full of tough, resourceful people. 

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