The Oregon Health Authority announced the state’s first presumptive case of the novel coronavirus on February 28, 2020, days before the beginning of the popular dining promotion Portland Restaurant Month. At that time, the impact of COVID-19 was already being felt in restaurant markets across the country, including Portland’s neighbor to the north, Seattle. Even before the Oregon case was announced, racist fears surrounding the new coronavirus’s ties to China were dramatically reducing traffic to Portland’s Asian American-owned restaurants.
As the number of Oregon’s presumptive and confirmed cases grew, Portland’s restaurant market felt the weight of the global pandemic: All of the state’s restaurants and bars were forced to either close or switch to takeout and delivery indefinitely. But even before Gov. Kate Brown announced her social distancing executive orders, restaurants known for large group celebration dinners were full of empty dining rooms, and downtown and hotel restaurants reliant on tourist business watched walk-in business drop exponentially.
In the summer of 2021, after more than a year of pandemic pivots and outdoor dining, the state fully lifted its COVID-19 safety protocol framework, meaning restaurants and bars could serve customers maskless in an at-capacity dining room. However, as cases and hospitalizations skyrocketed in the wake of the delta variant, the state decided to re-instate its mask mandate; even with the new heightened restrictions, many restaurant and bar owners have gone even farther, asking customers to show proof of vaccination before letting them dine inside.
Two years after Oregon identified its first COVID-19 case, Gov. Kate Brown announced that the state would lift its mask mandate at 11:59 p.m. on March 11; the state will lift its emergency declaration on April 1. However, many restaurant owners are unsure of their next moves — will they continue to require proof of vaccination? Will they instate their own mask mandates? At this point, it’s hard to say.
This stream tracks the various ways the Portland restaurant and bar scene has been impacted by the rise of COVID-19, as well as ways restaurants and diners have tried to keep the restaurant world thriving. For more information about COVID-19’s impact on the restaurant world at large, this tag features stories from Eater sites around the world.