As COVID-19 cases surge across Oregon, Gov. Kate Brown on April 27 again shifted the rules to ensure that 15 Oregon counties with high case counts must shut down indoor dining and gyms—but only for three weeks, at most.
Among those counties in “extreme risk” are Multnomah, Clackamas and Columbia, though not Washington County.
The governor’s announcement comes as virus variants are fueling a spike in the virus that appears to be outpacing vaccinations. Last week, people with the virus filled 182 non-intensive care hospital beds, a number not seen since January.
Indoor dining in Portland last reopened on Feb. 12. The new restrictions go into effect Friday, April 30.
This time, Brown announced $20 million to support businesses in extreme risk counties; she raised the caps on the number of outdoor diners a business can host from 50 to 100 people; and will reevaluate risk levels weekly instead of biweekly.
The 15 counties will remain in extreme risk only if they continue to have high case counts and statewide hospitalizations continue to increase by more than 15%—as well as remain above 300 total cases.
“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,” says Brown. “I am urging all Oregonians, if you choose to gather with others, keep it outdoors.”
As it has with previous closures of dining rooms, the Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association publicly seethed.
“It is impossible to run a restaurant two weeks at a time let alone one week at a time which is now Governor Brown’s plan for the coming weeks,” said Jason Brandt, president a CEO of the industry lobbying group. “It is blatant discrimination against our local businesses.”