Gov. Kate Brown announced in a press conference Thursday morning that the state has finalized its phase-one reopening protocols, which includes the reopening of salons, restaurants, bars, and retail businesses with social distancing and other health protocols.
Counties can apply to begin the reopening process in Oregon as early as tomorrow. Once approved by the state, a county can allow certain businesses to open with specific health guidelines in place. For restaurants, that means maintaining six feet of distance between tables, requiring employees to wear masks or other face coverings, and ending food and drink service by 10 p.m.
To be approved for phase one reopening, the state has a number of specific parameters, including a decline in hospitalizations for COVID-19 for 14 days, 15 contract tracers for each 100,000 people, and the ability to test 30 people per every 10,000. There are 36 counties in Oregon, but it seems unlikely that Multnomah will be able to meet the guidelines for reopening anytime soon; because of the size of its population, the county could struggle to accommodate the required number of tests or contact tracers. Counties will be notified whether or not they can reopen by May 15.
When a county is approved to reopen in phase one, it will need to stay in this phase for 21 days, at which point it’ll be re-evaluated; if the number of cases rise to unsafe levels, the state may close the county again. If, after 21 days, the number of cases holds steady or declines, a county will move into phase two of reopening, although the governor says the specifics of phase two reopening have yet to be finalized.
Brown says the state has prevented as many as 70,000 COVID-19 cases and that the state is meeting goals for slowing the spread, which is why she feels comfortable beginning this process in certain parts of the state. “Science and data remain my guideposts as we begin the reopening of Oregon,” she says. “As we reopen parts of our economy, we know and expect that there may be an uptick in new coronavirus cases.”