Clackamas County can begin reopening its small businesses and economy from the Covid-19 shutdowns.
The county’s plan for Phase 1 reopening was approved Friday afternoon, Governor Kate Brown announced, and businesses may begin reopening as early as Saturday, May 23, under her framework for building a safe and strong Oregon.
County officials presented their completed application to the state late Tuesday, and it took the Oregon Health Authority and the governor’s office just over two days to confirm the county has met Oregon’s safety and preparedness prerequisites for reopening.
Clackamas County Chair Jim Bernard said the quick turnaround is a testament to the county’s residents, who “listened when medical professionals told them how important it was to stay home and stay safe.”
“Thank you, Clackamas County,” Bernard said in a press release. “Without your incredible efforts in ‘flattening the curve,’ we would not have been able to move into Phase 1.”
With this approval, Clackamas County may begin the limited reopening of restaurants, bars, personal services, churches, health clubs, malls and shopping centers under new sector-specific guidelines, physical distancing restrictions and limited occupancy requirements.
Any businesses in these categories may reopen when they choose — with the appropriate guidelines for their sector in place. Phase 1 counties may also allow gatherings of up to 25 people for any reason, including church services and cultural events.
“We stayed in constant contact with the OHA and governor’s office to expedite the decision so that we can move forward as quickly and safely as possible,” Commissioner Ken Humberston said on Facebook, within minutes of receiving the news. “Please do your best to follow the guidelines, whether you are a business person or a client, so that we don’t spike to the point of another shutdowndon’t spike to the point of another shutdown or unnecessary loss of life.”
With more businesses opening comes an increased risk for exposure to Covid-19, Bernard stressed, and urged county residents to continue following the Centers for Disease Control’s recommendations.
“There is still work to do for us to continue our progress,” Bernard said. “Safety measures such as frequent handwashing, thorough cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces, social distancing and face coverings will ensure we continue to keep trends moving in the right direction.”
They must remain at Phase 1 for at least three weeks before they can apply for the second phase of reopening.
The county’s application for Phase 1 offers detailed explanations of how the county, its health region and health care system has either met the governor’s seven prerequisites for reopening, or plans to do so.