Starting at 5 pm tomorrow, visitors will no longer be allowed to access day-use areas, which include parking areas and restrooms. The closure is expected to last until at least May 8, according to the state parks Facebook page.
Campgrounds were to remain open until April 3, but now anyone staying overnight at a park will need to check out no later than 1 pm on March 23. Refunds will be issued for all cancellations.
"We know this will cause a disruption, since we're suspending service to everyone, even people who live near a park," Lisa Sumption, director of the Oregon State Parks and Recreation Department, said in a statement. "Reducing contact between people is more important than recreation at the moment."
While the state's beaches are not yet off limits, Oregon State Parks can close them at its discretion, and the agency has said it will do so if social distancing practices are not followed. City and county parks are under their own jurisdiction and managers of those areas will have to make their own call.
Also starting at 6 am on Monday, as first reported by the Portland Tribune, the U.S. Forest Service is cutting off access to the Multnomah Falls plaza, viewing areas and trail to the upper platform, based on guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The historic lodge ceased all operations today, following the closure of the restaurant and gift shop last week.
"It has become clear that some platforms and viewing areas at Multnomah Falls attract groups, making it nearly impossible for people to practice proper social distancing," said Lynn Burditt, forest supervisor for the National Scenic Area, in a statement. "All federal agencies have been asked to do their part to help prevent the spread of COVID‑19, so after observing the behavior of people at the site, we determined we had to take action to help protect the community."
Other trails in the Gorge are open, but that doesn't mean they'll stay that way for long. Members of the National Scenic Area leadership say they will assess the risk at other sites and enact "new health and safety measures" if needed.
The Forest Service has again requested that if an area is too crowded to maintain 6 feet of distance from others, hikers should move along and have a backup plan, such as walking in their local neighborhood.