Oregon to expand COVID-19 restrictions, starting Friday

By Lauren Dake (OPB)
July 22, 2020 6:30 p.m.

UPDATE (3 p.m. PT) — As the number of Oregon COVID-19 infections continue to rise, Gov. Kate Brown is once again expanding Oregon's statewide face mask policy, announcing on Wednesday it now applies to children ages 5 and older and people must wear a mask even while actively exercising inside of a gym.

The governor also announced all bars and restaurants in Phase 2 reopening counties must now close at 10 p.m. instead of midnight.


The new regulations take effect on Friday.

On July 1, the governor required all Oregonians to wear a face mask while inside public spaces. Last week, she expanded the rule to apply to all outdoor activities when social distancing could not be maintained. The mask mandate had been voluntary for children between ages 3 and 12, but Wednesday's announcement also changes the age limit. The new mask requirements will include schools. Masks aren't required for children 2 and under.

Related: COVID-19 in Oregon: By the numbers

In addition, the governor made changes to the size of gatherings allowed for Oregon businesses and other indoor venues. She changed the maximum capacity allowed from 250 people to 100 and reiterated that social distancing must be maintained. This includes churches.

Brown has already limited the number of people who can gather socially indoors to 10 people or fewer for private gatherings.

The governor returned to a familiar analogy she has used throughout the pandemic.

"We ventured out on the ice together and that ice has begun to crack," the governor said. "Before we fall through the ice we have to take additional steps to protect ourselves and our communities."


Brown said she is also considering how to stop the spread of cases coming into Oregon due to tourism. She is considering requiring mandatory quarantining from people who are arriving from places where there are well-known COVID-19 hotspots.

The Oregon Health Authority announced seven new deaths from the novel coronavirus on Tuesday. It was only the second time the state has reported that many deaths in one day.

Related: Delayed test results make efforts to contain COVID 'unworkable' in Oregon

Dr. Dean Sidelinger, the state epidemiologist, said there were more than 2,400 new cases in the last week, a 26 percent increase from previous week.

Sidelinger noted there was concern about the growth some of Oregon's eastern counties have seen lately.

Oregon has reported more than 15,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and 269 deaths as of Tuesday. The numbers have continued to rise since the governor lifted her stay-at-home order. The state has also struggled to track the virus and find and isolate Oregonians in part due to testing shortages and delays. The state is seeing more community spread where contact tracing is unable to identify the source.

The governor said counties with the most concerning rates of coronavirus spread might face additional scrutiny or restrictions in coming days.

The governor noted she had one piece of slightly more uplifting news: She was allowing outdoor visits to long-term care facilities that had no reported cases of the virus. The care facilities were ravaged particularly hard in the beginning stages of the virus.

"Some people will hear this announcement and think these restrictions don’t go far enough," the governor said.

"They’ll say we should completely close all restaurants and bars. Or move them to outdoor service only ... Here’s what I want every Oregonian to know: I don’t make these decisions lightly. There are no easy choices."

Later, the governor, added: “This is really hard. It’s lasting much longer and this virus is a lot tougher to beat than any of us would ever wish.”