Clackamas County reopened dine-in services at restaurants and bars on May 23, creating an imbalance and a temptation: open barrooms across the county line from Multnomah County, which remains locked down.

Already, city governments in Clackamas County are trying to reconfigure guidelines to ensure social distancing is followed. "The restaurants that chose to open were really busy," Milwaukie Mayor Mark Gamba tells WW. "Some of them were working really hard at social distancing, and others were utterly failing at it."

The Milwaukee City Council is crafting new rules. Gamba cited one example: requiring restaurants to keep two-thirds of seating empty. He says that the guidelines should be solidified by Thursday, May 28.

"We're experimenting. The whole country is experimenting," Gamba says, adding that he suspects a portion of Clackamas County's weekend crowds were visiting from Portland.

Tables at Mesa Fresca were arranged farther apart for social distancing. (Alex Wittwer)
Tables at Mesa Fresca were arranged farther apart for social distancing. (Alex Wittwer)

State Rep. Karin Power (D-Milwaukie) says she worries people will be eager to get back to socializing, especially those who don't know anyone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19.

"I think it's going to be hard for people to conceptualize the disease when no one they know has gotten sick from it," Power says. "If people are still getting together in large groups, then that risk is going to continue."

Our photographer visited Milwaukie, Lake Oswego and Oregon City on May 23. These photos show the first gatherings in two months.

Mesa Fresca in Oregon City. (Alex Wittwer)
Mesa Fresca in Oregon City. (Alex Wittwer)