PORTLAND, Ore. — Gov. Kate Brown on Thursday announced new guidance and a new, three-phase plan for counties and businesses as part of her framework to restart public life in Oregon.
Highlights of the plan:
- Counties with few or no COVID-19 cases could enter Phase 1 on by May 15
- Employees in businesses where social distancing cannot be maintained are required to wear face coverings
- Child care facilities and some summer schools and camps can open May 15, with social distancing and other new restrictions in place
- Concerts, sporting events and large gatherings will be canceled through at least September
Throughout all three phases, Oregonians will be asked to continue limiting travel, gatherings and visitations to nursing homes and hospitals. People will also need to stay home when sick and work from home whenever possible.
- Employees in certain businesses where physical distancing cannot be maintained — including grocery stores, pharmacies, public transit, salons and ride-sharing services — will be required to wear masks that cover the nose and mouth
- The state strongly recommends that businesses where employees are required to follow those guidelines also put in place mandatory face-covering policies for their customers
- And the new guidelines strongly recommend that people wear masks in any public space, especially where six feet of public distance cannot be maintained
On May 15, some standalone retail businesses that can follow these guidelines will be allowed to open, including furniture stores, art galleries, jewelry shops and boutiques.
Also on May 15, child care facilities can expand operations and some summer schools, camps and youth programs will be allowed to resume, with limitations and specific guidelines including physical distancing procedures.
The governor said Thursday that health professionals believe it is safe to do so and will finalize details and health and safety guidelines on daycare, summer school, camps and youth programs next week.
"I’ve prioritized opening these sectors because child care is absolutely essential to allowing parents to get back to work and because education is the bedrock of our society," Gov. Brown said in the press conference.
KGW reached out to the governor's office for more information about plans to expand child care in the state. Her office clarified that there will be more flexibility for families to use and access child care across the state as soon as May 15.
The updated health and safety guidelines will apply to all parts of the state and facilities will still be eligible to provide emergency child care.
Beyond that, counties and regions will have to meet seven prerequisites before entering Phase 1 of the reopening plan:
- Declining COVID-19 prevalence (by county)
- Minimum testing regimen (by health region)
- Contact tracing system (by county)
- Sufficient isolation/quarantine facilities (by county)
- Finalized statewide sector guidelines (statewide)
- Sufficient health care capacity (by health region)
- Sufficient PPE supply (by health region)
The governor will accept county applications starting on Friday and some counties will be able to enter Phase 1 by May 15.
The Oregon Health Authority said Thursday that it is "safe to assume the majority of Oregon counties will be in a place next Friday" to begin reopening.
When a county has entered Phase 1, restrictions will be eased in the following four sectors, with the listed requirements included
- Restaurants and bars: Sit-down dining with 6-foot physical distancing requirement, limit groups to parties of 10 or fewer and end food and drink consumption by 10 p.m. and workers are required to wear masks
- Personal care — salons, barbers, massages: physical distancing, appointment-only, PPE and customer list required
- Personal care — gyms/fitness: maximum gathering limit; physical distancing and sanitation required
- Local gatherings – tentative: up to 25, with no travel
Restrictions lifted in Phase 1 for any county can be re-imposed if that county fails to meet contact-tracing requirements or sees an increase in COVID-19 severity or prevalence.
After 21 days of compliance in Phase 1, counties may be allowed to move into Phase 2. The specifics of Phase 2 have not been finalized, and will be guided by data collected in Phase 1. But it will include expanded gathering sizes, allowing some people to return to work, and allowing some visitation to care facilities.
Phase 3, which focuses on large gatherings, will not begin until reliable treatment or prevention of COVID-19 is widely available. Because it’s still unknown when that might happen, the state announced that all concerts, conventions, festivals, live audience sports and other large gatherings should be canceled through at least September.
Further guidance on fall events will be provided in the summer.
The governor said data and science have informed and will continue to inform, her decisions as she begins reopening the state. She said restarting any part of Oregon comes with risk; projections show we will likely see an increase in new COVID-19 cases as we reopen our economy.
"These choices are not easy. As we reopen parts of our economy we know and expect there may be an uptick in new coronavirus cases," Brown said Thursday. "That’s why we have to be prepared in every single corner of the state because, as we’ve seen, an outbreak can occur anywhere in the state."
Until there is a vaccine or treatment for COVID-19, the governor and state health officials say it won't go back to "life as we know it" anywhere in the world.
We asked Multnomah County about when it might enter Phase One.
Multnomah County Communications Director, Julie Sullivan-Springhetti said, "As part of a tri-county region with the most hospital systems, the highest population of vulnerable residents and a major driver of the state’s economy, we know that the timeline for our reopening will be different from more rural areas of the state."
She said the county is working to develop an online resource that would identify where the county stands in the prerequisites for reopening.
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