Good news for local restaurants, pubs and other businesses, as Clackamas County has been tabbed to move down to moderate risk under Governor Kate Brown’s latest statewide framework for assessing Covid-19 risk lievels based on coronavirus data.
It marks the second time in two weeks that the county’s Covid-19 risk level has been downgraded, amid plummeting new case counts this month that officials attribute to vaccine proliferation and Oregonians’ compliance with public health protocols — while acknowledging the historic Presidents’ Day weekend ice storm likely played a role as well, by temporarily sidelining testing sites.
Ironically, Clackamas County had been cleared to reopen for indoor dining and recreational activities the Friday that the most damaging wave of the storm hit — dealing a double whammy to already struggling restaurants as some owners had to watch food go to waste in coolers that lost power for two days or more.
Also included in both the initial downgrade two weeks ago and this one was Clackamas’s Portland metro area neighbor, Washington County. Fourteen other counties also improved their risk levels. However, Multnomah, the state’s largest county will remain at high risk for now.
“For the second time in a row, we are seeing great progress in stopping the spread of Covid-19 across Oregon and saving lives,” said Brown. “Oregonians continue to step up and make smart choices. While these county movements are welcome news, we must continue to take seriously health and safety measures, especially as more businesses reopen and we start to get out more.”
Under Oregon’s latest framework for coronavirus-related restrictions, counties are placed into four risk level categories: extreme risk, high risk, moderate risk and lower risk. The extreme risk designation comes with the strictest restrictions while the lower risk category comes with the least-restrictive rules.
In moderate-risk counties, restaurants and bars may host up to 50% capacity or 100 people indoors, whichever is smaller, and up to 150 people outdoors. Establishments may remain open until 11 p.m.
Gyms and fitness clubs may also serve half their maximum capacity or 100 people, as can theaters, museums and other indoor entertainment and recreational venues. Full-contact sports are prohibited.
Churches and other faith institutions may welcome the smaller of 50% capacity or 150 people indoors, or 250 for outdoor services.
The new risk levels start Friday and will be in effect at least through March 11.
The Oregon Health Authority reassigns risk designations to counties every two weeks, based on the latest data on Covid-19 spread. If the coronavirus metrics rise too sharply, it is possible Clackamas County could be moved back to high risk — which happened to several other counties this week.
“As we see infection rates going down and vaccinations ramping up, now is not the time to let down our guard,” said Brown. “Continue to wear your masks, keep physical distance, and avoid indoor gatherings.”
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