One week after announcing Multnomah and fourteen other counties would have to ban indoor dining at restaurants and bars, Gov. Kate Brown says that all of the state’s counties can begin serving customers in dining rooms again starting May 7.
Last week, rising case counts, hospitalizations, and deaths forced the state to place 15 counties — including Clackamas and Multnomah — in the state’s “extreme risk” category, which bans indoor dining at bars and restaurants. The state’s COVID-19 risk levels, which dictate what certain businesses and residents in a certain county can do in an attempt to prevent the spread of COVID-19, are set based on metrics like the rate of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people in a county, the county’s number of COVID-19 cases, and the percentage of COVID-19 tests that are positive, as well as a statewide metric — how many COVID-19 patients occupy hospital beds in Oregon.
Now that hospitalizations have leveled out, 15 counties can re-enter the “high risk” category. High-risk counties can allow restaurants to serve up to 25 percent of their capacity or 50 people inside — whichever is smaller — and up to 120 people outside. “Let me be clear: across the state, COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are still high, and Oregon is not out of the woods yet,” a statement from Brown reads. “However, we have met the hospitalization metric established by our health experts for counties to return to High Risk.”
Brown also said that the rising number of vaccinated Oregonians should help the state’s counties stay out of the extreme risk category. “With Oregonians continuing to get vaccinated each week, my expectation is that we will not return to Extreme Risk again for the duration of this pandemic,” Brown says in the statement. “Today, we also received the welcome news from the Biden-Harris administration that they will be reallocating unused vaccines to the states that need them. Oregon will ask for the maximum allowed, which will help us to get shots in arms faster. Vaccinations are still our best path to protecting our loved ones, and staying on track to fully reopen our economy by the end of June.”