A with dishes, napkins  and a bottle of wine on top, in an empty restaurant dining room.

Tables at Portofino restaurant sit empty Monday, on April 13, 2020, in Portland, Ore. Restaurants and bars closed a year ago due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but have gradually been allowed to resume business in many Oregon counties depending on local risk levels.

Bradley W. Parks / OPB

The Oregon Health Authority released its latest assessment of COVID-19 risks in the state’s counties Tuesday and reported improvements in 13 counties since the last review.

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That means those counties can operate businesses with fewer restrictions beginning Friday.

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Three counties moved to higher risk categories, and two others — Jackson and Malheur counties — qualified for higher risk assessments but were given a two-week caution period to improve their infections rates and other health metrics.

“We are largely seeing case rates decline across the state, with the most counties in the Lower Risk level since the framework was introduced in November,” Gov. Kate Brown said in a press statement. “I encourage all Oregonians to keep it up and to get your vaccine when it’s available to you.”

The 13 counties that are in the lowest risk category are almost entirely east of the Cascades: Clatsop, Crook, Gilliam, Grant, Harney, Hood River, Lake, Lincoln, Morrow, Sherman, Wallowa, Wasco and Wheeler.

Starting Friday, Multnomah County will join the rest of the Portland metro area counties — Clackamas and Washington — in the moderate risk category. The moderate risk category allows many indoor activities, such as dining and religious services, to move to 50% capacity.

Only two counties, Coos and Douglas in Southern Oregon, remain in the extreme risk category, which entirely prohibits indoor recreation and entertainment.

The latest risk assessment for Oregon counties will last until March 25.

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