PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Gov. Kate Brown announced Tuesday that some indoor activities, such as gyms and movie theaters, in Oregon can reopen with a limited capacity beginning Friday.
However, the new modifications do not apply to indoor dining, which has been banned for more than two months in counties labeled as Extreme Risk due the coronavirus pandemic, including Multnomah — the state’s most populous county and home to Portland.
“The science has shown us that outdoor activities are safer than indoor activities when it comes to the spread of COVID 19, which is why we have clearly delineated guidance between indoor and outdoor activities,” Gov. Brown said in a statement Tuesday. “We have seen over the last several weeks that Oregonians have largely complied with risk levels to the point that we have not seen a surge in hospitalizations that would have jeopardized hospital capacity. This means we are able to make these adjustments."
The new modifications allow for a maximum of six people indoors at facilities over 500 square feet. The business must follow cleaning protocols and people will be required to social distance and wear a facemask. For facilities smaller than 500 square feet, the modified guidance allows for one to one customer experiences, such as personal training.
In addition, the governor announced updates to county risk levels.
Beginning Friday, Grant County will move into the Moderate Risk level and Tillamook and Curry counties will move into the Lower Risk level. Twenty-five counties remain in Extreme Risk.
“Most of the state remains in the Extreme Risk category,” Brown. said “This is an important reminder for all Oregonians to continue to do their part by abiding by the health and safety guidelines in place.”
The announcement was met with criticism from Oregon’s restaurant industry, as many cafes and diners remain limited to take-out service or outdoor dining. The Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association noted that the state’s recent rise in unemployment was driven by job losses in the service sector, as restaurants struggle to deal with restrictions aimed at limiting spread of COVID-19.
“It doesn’t make sense to me how I can have all this space to safely spread out my customers in my restaurant and have the government continue to tell me I can’t use it when I know I can do it safely,” said Treva Gambs, owner of Gamberetti’s Italian Restaurants in Salem and Albany, in a statement ORLA released Tuesday, following the governor’s announcement.
The Oregon Health Authority reexamines and adjusts county risk levels every two weeks. The next announcement will be made on Feb. 9.
OPB contributed additional reporting to this Associated Press story.