50

Number of people who can gather in a bar, restaurant, gym, fitness studio, bowling alley, ice rink, swimming pool or museum

6

Number of people who can gather in a private residence if the event includes people outside their household

Oregon COVID-19 cases are again spiking to never-before-seen rates. Infections were up more than 30% in the week ending Nov. 7. So too were the percentage of tests coming back positive: more than 10% in the week ending Nov. 7. On bad days, the state is nearing 1,000 new cases a day.

Gov. Kate Brown's solution is not to lock down the state or even counties—but to limit some activities in any county with 200 cases per 100,000 people in a two-week period or, in counties with a population under 30,000 people, 60 cases over a two-week period.

So far, that means Baker, Clackamas, Jackson, Malheur, Marion, Multnomah, Umatilla, Union and Washington counties. All three of the most populous counties in the Portland metro region are on what Brown is calling "a two-week pause." That pause starts Nov. 11.

The governor's magic number for reducing virus spread? Six people. That's the cap she asked Oregonians to set on their home gatherings, and the largest party now allowed at an indoor table at a restaurant or bar. But 50 people, including staff, can still be in the same room at most businesses.

Her effort earned mixed reviews: The state's restaurants are pissed. They argue that only one part of the governor's instructions is enforceable—the one that applies to them.

"There will be thousands of operators across the state who will be unable to comprehend an additional arbitrary limit on the total number of people they can have indoors with no consideration given to the square footage available," says Jason Brandt, president and CEO of the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association. "We will have less paychecks to provide to struggling Oregonians, less opportunity for Oregonians to take a 'mental health break' in controlled restaurant environments, and we will drive more people to unregulated, private gatherings leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday."

One longtime critic who thinks Brown is playing politics with the pandemic is also raising questions—about allowing indoor drinking and dining to continue at all. "I do believe indoor bars and restaurants should probably be closed," says Multnomah County Commissioner Sharon Meieran. "What our economy needs to be healthy is for people to be healthy."