PORTLAND, Ore. — With temperatures in the upper 60s expected, this weekend would typically be one where Oregonians flock to the various areas of natural beauty in the state and soak up the sun with the rejuvenated energy that spring has arrived.
But with the COVID-19 pandemic, these aren’t normal times and the Oregon Office of Emergency Management wants people to know this weekend is not the time to stop practicing social distancing, even though Mother Nature may encourage different behavior.
“The message from state leaders, health care workers, and those on the front lines responding to the COVID-19 outbreak is: please continue to stay home to save lives…even when it’s sunny,” the Oregon OEM said in a press release on Thursday.
State parks, many federal trailheads, and all private and public recreational campgrounds are closed to prevent people from gathering. While some local parks are still open, people should maintain a distance of at least six feet between each other. In Portland, there will be “park greeters” to help enforce social distancing.
During the final weekend prior to Gov. Kate Brown’s stay-home order, which was issued on March 23, people flocked to Oregon’s beaches and recreational trails despite recommendations to stay home. The Oregon OEM says that kind of non-essential travel should be short and minimal, if done at all, to limit the potential spread of COVID-19 and prevent hospitals in rural areas from being overwhelmed. Most public access points to Oregon’s beaches are closed.
The Oregon OEM has the following recommendations for people trying to take advantage of the sunny weekend.
- Backyard picnics on the lawn or patio with those in your immediate household.
- Walks or jogs in your neighborhood while maintaining physical distance.
- Gardening, washing your car, or just soaking up the sunshine in your yard.
Models show that social distancing measures in Oregon appear to be working and flattening the curve, so the state’s hospital system isn’t overwhelmed with a surge of coronavirus patients.
“Now is a critical time to stay the course so we can continue this progress,” the Oregon OEM said.