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'Our phones are already blowing up': Marion, Polk county businesses ready for Phase 1 reopening

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced the counties can begin slowly reopening on Friday, May 22.

PORTLAND, Ore — Marion and Polk counties are approved to enter Phase 1 of Oregon’s reopening plan on Friday, May 22, Gov. Kate Brown announced Wednesday night.

That means the following restrictions will be eased:

  • Restaurants and bars for sit-down service: Requirements include 6 feet of social distancing; a limit of groups to parties of 10 or fewer; food and drink consumption must end by 10 p.m.; and workers are required to wear masks. See more details on the requirements
  • Barbers, salons and massage businesses: Requirements include social distancing; appointment-only; and a personal protective equipment and customer list. See more details on the requirements
  • Gyms and fitness centers: Requirements include a maximum gathering limit; social distancing; and sanitation. See more details on the requirements
  • In-person gatherings: Up to 25 people, no travel

In order to be approved for Phase 1, Marion and Polk counties had to meet prerequisites including a decline in COVID-19 cases, contact tracing capabilities, plans for quarantines of new cases, hospital capacity and protective equipment for health care workers.

At Trio Salon in Salem, the news was cause for celebration. 

"Our phones are already blowing up," said co-owner Molly Barrett. "People are very excited to get back in not only support us but they need their hair done as well."

Trio Salon plans to open Friday. It's owners have sanitized their space and will require clients to join stylists in wearing masks.

"We're all in it together," said co-owner, Chachi Tuy. "If we could just be patient with each other as we learn this new way of doing things, that would be really, really helpful."

RELATED: Dissecting Phase 1 of Gov. Brown's reopening plan for Oregon

The counties must remain in Phase 1 for at least 21 days before they’re eligible to start Phase 2.

Marion and Polk counties will join 31 other Oregon counties that began their slow reopening on May 15. Both counties tried to reopen last week but were denied after failing to meet all of Gov. Brown's prerequisites

"It was a big relief," said Marion County Board of Commissioners Chair, Colm Willis. "There's a real emotional element to this, hearing your friends and neighbors just so grateful for the opportunity to go back to work."   

Willis said the county issued 15,000 masks to local businesses and is training 20 new contact tracers in case they need to handle a surge of new illnesses.

The only counties that have not been approved for Phase 1 are in the Portland metro area: Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas.

Clackamas County applied to enter Phase 1 on Tuesday night. Washington County will apply Friday. Multnomah County has not set a date to apply for reopening.

RELATED: Clackamas County applies for Phase 1 of reopening; Multnomah County not setting application date