PORTLAND, Ore. — In an announcement Wednesday afternoon, Gov. Kate Brown said she will be grouping several counties together as regional units for future reopening decisions, including the tri-county area of Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties.
That means the three counties that make up the Portland metro, which accounts for about 43% of Oregon's population, will remain in Phase 1 for at least 21 days after June 19, the day Brown says Multnomah County can enter Phase 1 of reopening. Once 21 days have passed after June 19, all three counties will be eligible to move into Phase 2.
“I know this impacts communities and businesses in Clackamas and Washington counties but, as we reopen our state, we must recognize how interconnected the metro area is,” Brown said.
Clackamas County originally entered Phase 1 on May 23 and Washington County on June 1. But for further reopening, they now share Multnomah County’s timeline.
Under Phase 1, the following restrictions are in place:
- 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.
The grouping of counties together, which is also happening with Marion and Polk counties, comes after the governor put a week-long hold on all reopening plans due to the increase of COVID-19 cases.
“The next few weeks will be difficult, and we will be monitoring the data regularly,” Brown said. “However, if hospitalizations spike too rapidly, if the capacity of our health care system is threatened, we will be forced to revert to stricter rules.’
Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury supported the governor’s decision to link the metro counties as one reopening area.
“We know that people in the Portland metro area live in one county, work in another and recreate in a third. And yet, the virus does not care about county lines,’’ said Kafoury. “I applaud the governor for connecting the three counties.’’
Kafoury and Brown both advised people continue to exercise caution to limit the spread of COVID-19, by doing things such as handwashing and maintaining six feet of distance from others. As part of Wednesday’s wide-ranging announcement, the governor also said face coverings will be required in indoor public spaces, such as grocery stores and other businesses, in Multnomah, Washington, Clackamas, Hood River, Marion, Polk and Lincoln counties beginning Wednesday, June 24.
“Our entire ability to reopen and stay open is dependent on whether each of us follows basic health and safety protections,” Brown said.