Local restaurants and bars will be prohibited from offering service inside starting Friday, and other indoor services for certain businesses will be severely restricted, as Governor Kate Brown has made good on her promise to reinstate Clackamas and 14 other counties to the “extreme risk” amid a fourth surge of coronavirus hospitalizations.
Clackamas County crossed the threshold for extreme risk — the highest and most restrictive tier of Brown’s latest reopening framework — but was spared a shut-down as long as statewide Covid-19 hospitalizations remained above 300.
But the new restrictions were triggered Monday, when Oregon reported 319 people actively hospitalized with confirmed cases of Covid-19, exceeding the benchmark set by Brown in early April.
She announced Tuesday morning that Clackamas and 14 other counties, including Multnomah and Marion, would move to extreme risk as of Friday, April 30, and remain there through at least May 6.
“If we don’t act now, doctors, nurses, hospitals, and other health care providers in Oregon will be stretched to their limits treating severe cases of Covid-19,” Brown said in a statement.
“Today’s announcement will save lives and help stop Covid-19 hospitalizations from spiking even higher. With new Covid-19 variants widespread in so many of our communities, it will take all of us working together to bring this back under control.”
Brown also announced county coronavirus risk levels will be re-evaluated weekly for at least the next three weeks — as opposed to the previous two-week cycle.
And, while closing indoor dining, she has agreed to double outdoor capacity limits for bars, restaurants and other sectors from 50 to 100 people in extreme risk counties.
“We know that the risk of Covid-19 transmission is lower outdoors,” Brown said. “I am urging all Oregonians, if you choose to gather with others, keep it outdoors. Indoor transmission is a key driver in the COVID-19 surge that is making renewed health and safety restrictions necessary.”
Counties whose Covid-19 metrics improve by the next week will have the opportunity to move to a lower risk level.
Finally, Brown said counties will remain in extreme risk for a maximum of three weeks. If the state and one or more counties still meet the criteria for extreme risk after three weeks, the Oregon Health Authority will study the situation and make recommendations to the governor’s office, Brown said.
“The fastest way to lift health and safety restrictions is for Oregonians to get vaccinated as quickly as possible and follow the safety measures we know stop this virus from spreading,” Brown said. “I recognize the burden these restrictions place on Oregon businesses and working families.”
The governor said her goal is to “lift these restrictions as soon as it is safely possible, and keep Oregon on the path for lifting most health and safety requirements by the end of June so we can fully reopen our economy.”
“But we will only get there if enough Oregonians get vaccinated,” she maintained. “There are appointments available right now all across the state.”
Brown also said she and Oregon lawmakers are working to approve a $20 million small business emergency relief package she said will provide commercial rent relief to impacted businesses in extreme risk counties.
“The vast majority of Oregon businesses have followed our health and safety guidance to protect Oregonians from Covid-19, even though doing so has come with an economic cost,” she said. “This emergency aid will help businesses in extreme risk counties.”
Those interested in taking the vaccine may also register with the state at getvaccinated.oregon.gov to be notified of appointments when they are available for your eligibility group.
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