Oregon is preparing to lift its COVID-19 safety protocols as soon as June. Today, Gov. Kate Brown announced that, outside of some mask-wearing and distancing guidance, the state will forgo its risk-evaluation framework once 70 percent of Oregonians 16 or older receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, allowing restaurants and bars to return to full-capacity seating.
In a press conference, Brown announced the plan to slowly remove the state’s COVID-19 safeguards. Starting May 21, certain counties will enter the “lower risk” category, which allows restaurants and bars to serve up to 300 people outside and permits music and entertainment venues to increase capacity to 50 percent. Counties can enter that risk level when they vaccinate 65 percent of their populations older than 16, as long as counties submit a plan to the state addressing how the county will close vaccine equity gaps. Washington County may be able to enter this category by next week. Once the Oregon population reaches that 70 percent benchmark, the state will abandon the risk category framework, which also means restaurants and bars will no longer have capacity limits.
As of this week, just under two million Oregonians — more than 50 percent of the adult population — have received at least their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine; 36 percent of the adult population is fully vaccinated. Based on the state’s vaccination projection models, the state should be able to meet the guideline between mid-June and July. “We still have some work to do to reach our 70 percent goal, but I am confident we can get there in June and return Oregon to a sense of normalcy,” Brown says.
• Oregon Risk Level Framework [Official]
• How Coronavirus Is Impacting the Portland Restaurant World [EPDX]