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Starting May 27, Portland Restaurants Can Waive Capacity Limits in ‘Vaccinated Sections’

On May 27, Multnomah County will enter the state’s “lower risk” category, in which businesses can create “vaccinated sections” where customers with proof of vaccination don’t have to socially distance

Huber’s dining room.
The dining room at Huber’s
Krista Garcia/EPDX
Brooke Jackson-Glidden is the editor of Eater Portland.

Starting May 27, Multnomah County will enter the state’s “lower risk” category, which means restaurants can close at midnight, venues can fill up to 50 percent capacity, and restaurants can start opening “vaccinated sections,” which lift social distancing mandates for vaccinated customers.

Earlier this month, Gov. Kate Brown announced that Oregon counties could enter the “lower risk” category as soon as it vaccinates 65 percent of residents 16 years old or older and the state approves its plan to address vaccination equity gaps. The lower risk category is the lowest risk level in the state’s COVID-19 safety protocol framework; it allows groups of 10 to gather indoors at parties, and it lets restaurants serve up to 300 people outside and at 50 percent capacity inside.

But this week, Gov. Brown adjusted the lower risk category’s restrictions a bit more: Starting May 27, businesses, venues, and faith institutions like churches can start checking vaccination status to allow for vaccination sections, which can exceed the state-mandated capacity limits and ignore the physical distancing requirement. Businesses can require distancing or masks in those sections if they choose, while customers need to show proof of vaccination status before entry to a vaccination section. The only exception: children 15 years old and younger, who can enter with a mask and a vaccinated parent or guardian.

Multnomah County will be one of 18 counties in the lower risk category, including Washington; Clackamas County remain in the high-risk category. Once 70 percent of Oregonians 16 or older receive at least one dose of their vaccines, the state will lift the framework and most of the COVID-19 safety protocols in place. At the moment, more than 50 percent of Oregonians have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

“The science is clear: vaccines are very effective in keeping people safe from COVID-19, and they are the key to returning to normal life and lifting health and safety restrictions statewide,” Gov. Brown says in a statement. “This disease remains dangerous for those in communities with high rates of unvaccinated individuals. That’s why I’m encouraging all Oregonians to roll up your sleeves, take your shot, and get a chance to change your life.”

Governor Kate Brown Announces Updates to County Risk Levels [Official]
Governor Kate Brown Announces Updates to Lower Risk Health and Safety Protocols [Official]
Restaurants Can Let Vaccinated Oregonians Enter Maskless — as Long as Customers Can Prove They’re Vaccinated [EPDX]

Correction: This story has been corrected to show that Washington County is in the high risk category, not the lower risk category. This was based on an error in the governor’s release.