Gov. Kate Brown said on Sunday night that she is considering a range of options to increase compliance with "social distancing" in Oregon, among them the wholesale closure of bars and restaurants, or, short of closure, implementing a curfew.
"I'm looking for an Oregon solution," Brown told reporters in a 6 pm conference call.
The governors of Ohio and Illinois have already shut down such establishments in their states.
Brown said she discussed the concept of closure today with Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury and will be talking further with elected officials around the state.
Brown noted that she'd also talked this afternoon to Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, whose state has tallied far more cases of COVID-19 than Oregon but has not yet acted to close bars and restaurants.
Although Brown says her top priority is decreasing transmission rates of COVID-19, she says concern for the economic survival of small businesses is stopping her from ordering closures.
"These decisions will have real impact on Oregon businesses," Brown said.
The governor also notes that front-line healthcare and public safety worker may need access to take-out meals, another reason to keep restaurants open.
She said that one advisor suggested curfews might be useful as patrons grow less inhibited later in the evening and may not practice social distancing.
Brown said she expects further guidance from the federal Center for Disease Control tomorrow, and that may push her to a decision on restaurants and bars.
This evening, more than 60 food and drink workers, including several of the city's most prominent restaurant owners, wrote Brown an open letter asking her to shut down their establishments and give them government aid. Eater Portland first reported the letter.
The governor also expects to make an announcement early in the week about hospital capacity. She met with Oregon Health & Science staff on Friday and said management at the state's major hospitals have been conferring all weekend about how to increase resources.
About 10 percent of the various personal protective equipment such as masks and gowns Oregon requested from federal authorities arrived over the past 24 hours but Brown remains frustrated with the pact of federal response.
Brown's chief of staff, Nik Blosser, says that the Oregon Health Authority has made some progress in adding testing capacity and is in negotiation with a private lab to do that work.
The Oregon National Guard may be called upon for emergency medical services and general support, Brown said, but there has been no formal mobilization of troops.
The governor will hold another press conference at 10 am Monday and each day this week to keep Oregonians informed of her thinking.