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Multnomah County 'planning to move forward' into Phase 1 of reopening

The county has long targeted Friday, June 12, to begin its gradual reopening.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Multnomah County is moving ahead with its plan to begin a gradual reopening on Friday. 

County commissioners and health officials re-evaluated progress toward entering Phase 1 of Oregon’s reopening plan during a meeting Wednesday afternoon.

"We are planning to move forward into Phase 1," said County Chair Deborah Kafoury.

The county is now waiting for approval from Gov. Kate Brown.

Wednesday's re-evaluation was planned before the county submitted its application to enter Phase 1. The county has long targeted Friday, June 12, to begin its gradual reopening.

During Wednesday's meeting, Dr. Jennifer Vines, the county's health officer, said a recent uptick in cases across the county and state were not surprising due to the opening of other nearby counties and the overall increase in testing.

The number of cases is low relative to the population of Multnomah County, which is roughly 800,000 people, Dr. Vines said.

Kim Toevs, communicable disease director for Multnomah County, said there have been very few cases linked to the mass demonstrations that have taken place in Portland the past two weeks in response to the death of George Floyd and racial injustice.

The county has hired 65 of 122 needed contact tracers. Another 35 potential contact tracers have been identified and the hiring process is underway.

If Multnomah County enters Phase 1 as planned, 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.

Many small business owners in Portland are preparing to reopen on Friday.

Patrick Abernethy, owner of Dillinger’s Barbershop in Northeast Portland has mixed feelings.

“We’re all anxious to get back to work and get business going again, but with the current circumstances, I don’t know how good we all feel about jumping back in and being on the front lines of a pandemic that is not slowing down,” said Abernethy.

After entering Phase 1, the county will need to wait at least 21 days before it is eligible to enter Phase 2.

Multnomah County, which is the most densely populated in the state, is the only county remaining in Oregon that has not entered Phase 1 of Gov. Kate Brown’s reopening plan.

Twenty-nine of Oregon’s 36 counties have entered Phase 2. Phase 2 applications from Marion County and Polk County are under review.

RELATED: These 29 Oregon counties have been approved for Phase 2 of reopening

RELATED: Multnomah County applies for Phase 1

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