Governor Kate Brown on Friday announced that she would sign an executive order lifting virtually all Covid-19 restrictions in the state by June 30 — regardless of statewide vaccination rates.
If Oregon’s statewide rate hits the magic number of 70% or higher, then the restrictions would lift at that time. The first-dose vaccination rates for adults in Oregon was at 69.1% as of Friday, with an estimated 30,000 more needed to get the shot for the state to reach the governor’s goal.
However — and whenever — it happens, the full reopening effectively means the end of some of the strictest coronavirus restrictions in the country, and a return to something very much resembling normalcy for the first time since the pandemic began 15 months ago.
“As I have detailed before, that means no more statewide mask mandates in most settings, no required capacity limits and no required physical distancing,” said Brown. “It means, effectively, Oregon is 100% open for business.”
With restrictions lifted, the state will shift to a focus on helping Oregonians and communities recover from the impacts and the economic toll of the pandemic, Brown said.
“I’m proud of our collective efforts to vaccinate more than 2.3 million Oregonians. It is because of this success that we can move Oregon forward, and into the next chapter of this pandemic. We are ready,” said Brown.
“We should all take pride in the work we have done to bring us to this moment. The efforts underway to close our vaccine equity gap and reach every Oregonian with information and a vaccine have definitely helped bring us this far. Thank you to all who are going the extra mile to vaccinate Oregonians.”
The Governor’s recovery order rescinds Executive Order 20-66, the successor to her original “Stay Home, Save Lives” order and subsequent orders, which authorized Oregon’s statewide mask mandate and the county risk level system, including restrictions on businesses and other sectors for physical distancing, capacity limits, closing times, and more.
The recovery order also rescinds Executive Order Order 20-22 (Non-urgent Healthcare Procedures), Executive Order 21-06 (K-12 Schools), Executive Order 20-28 (Higher Education), and Executive Order 20-19 (Childcare Facilities).
With the repeal of the set of executive orders that placed Covid-19 related restrictions on Oregonians, the recovery order extends the emergency declaration for the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The governor’s remaining emergency authority will be limited in focus to Covid-19 recovery efforts, similar to the recovery executive order currently in place for 2020 wildfire season recovery, her office said.
Emergency authority continues to be necessary to provide flexibility and resources for vaccination efforts, health system response to Covid-19 including staffing flexibility, Oregon’s access to FEMA, enhanced SNAP benefits, and other federal aid, to allow the continued operation of certain emergency child care providers through the summer, unemployment insurance claim processing, and more.
The recovery order does not provide authorization for agencies to renew restrictions based on emergency authorities.
“This is a pivotal moment for Oregon,” Brown said. “We have endured a lot over the past several months. We must recognize that it has been exceptionally difficult for our Black, Indigenous, Latino, Latina, Latinx, Asian, Pacific Islander, and Tribal communities. …
“Brighter days are ahead. And, we are more determined than ever to make sure we ground our state in a strong recovery that reaches every single Oregonian as we turn a page on this chapter of the pandemic. Our work is not done, but we can all take a moment to celebrate that by next week, we will be moving forward together.”
Some statewide mask requirements may stay in place in specialized settings following federal guidance, including airports, public transit, and health care settings. The Governor’s recovery order will remain in effect until December 31, 2021, unless terminated earlier.
Rescinding the Governor’s executive orders for K-12 schools, higher education, and childcare will mean a shift to a more traditional, local decision-making model for communities when it comes to serving the health and safety needs of students and children.
In order to ensure a return to full-time, in-person instruction in the fall, the Oregon Department of Education and the Oregon Health Authority will be issuing updated, advisory guidance for the 2021-22 school year.
Schools will still be expected to comply with longstanding regulations around the control of infectious diseases, and to have a communicable disease management plan.
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