UPDATE (March 27, 11:01 a.m. PT) – If your day-to-day life hadn't already been significantly disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, there's going to be no getting around it now.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown issued an order Monday requiring people to stay home in order to slow the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.
“To protect the health and lives of Oregonians, particularly those at highest risk, and to help avoid overwhelming local and regional healthcare capacity, I find that immediate implementation of additional measures is necessary,” Brown said in the order.
The order requires certain businesses to close and people to remain in their places of residence “to the maximum extent possible.”
Oregon health officials have been advising residents to practice social distancing for a while now — things like keeping 6 feet between people, limiting public gatherings, staying home if you’re sick. Brown issued her initial social distancing order limiting the size of public gatherings more than a week ago.
This “Stay Home, Save Lives” order is the most restrictive set of measures issued yet for Oregonians and comes after many other states and major U.S. cities have issued similar restrictions.
What does “stay home” mean?
Under the governor’s order, people are required to stay home, except to meet essential needs like buying food, getting health care and caring for family members or “other vulnerable persons, pets or livestock.” When people do go out to perform or access these services, they should maintain 6 feet of space between themselves and others. COVID-19 is believed to spread through close contact between people and respiratory droplets created through coughing and sneezing.
Social and recreational gatherings of any size are not permitted, unless the 6-foot rule can be followed.
"We’re trying to limit social circles, and we’re trying to incorporate social distancing in our lives. And it’s really, really challenging,” Brown said.
Can I go outside?
Yes. Now is the perfect time to catch up on yard work if you have it.
In addition, the order says you can go outside with members of your household to do things like hike, bike, run and walk, as long as social distancing with other groups can be maintained.
But outdoor places where people gather — pools, skate parks, playgrounds and sports courts — are all closed. In addition the governor has ordered the closure of all campgrounds, private and public.
What businesses are closed?
The order requires non-essential businesses to close beginning Tuesday. The list in the governor’s order fall into a few categories:
- Recreational: amusement parks, bowling alleys, skating rinks, non-tribal card rooms, hookah bars, ski resorts
- Non-essential retail: cosmetics stores, toy stores, gift shops, furniture stores
- Personal services: barber shops, salons, spas, tattoo parlors, tanning salons, gyms and athletic clubs
- Arts and entertainment: theaters, museums, galleries
- Social gathering spaces: fraternal organizations facilities, senior activity centers, social and private clubs, indoor party spaces
There are some exceptions for these specific businesses, like if certain businesses can provide pick-up services or appointment-only visits.
The governor's office says that if a business is not on this list, then it can be open, as long as it follows teleworking and social distancing measures.
The Oregon Health Authority can issue additional closures as needed.
Are restaurants and bars included?
There are no additional restrictions put on restaurants and bars, which have been closed to dine-in since March 17. Restaurants can still offer take-out and delivery.
What happens for non-retail/non-service industry businesses in the state?
Businesses that don’t regularly interact directly with members of the public are not required to close under the new stay-at-home order, but they do face closure if they don’t take concrete steps to ensure the safety of their workforce and avoid the at-work spread of COVID-19.
“Work in offices is prohibited whenever telework and work-at-home options are available,” the order states.
If working from home is not an option, these businesses must designate a person on staff to establish and enforce social distancing practices in the office.
“If you cannot telecommute, if you cannot socially distance safely, then you need to close down,” Brown said.
She said that if an employee feels their employer is not following the guidelines then they should call the Bureau of Labor and Industries to express their concerns.
Will public buildings be open?
Beginning Wednesday, offices under the state executive branch will be closed to the "maximum extent possible."
These closed or largely curtailed operations include the Department of Education, the Department of Justice, natural resource offices and DMVs.
Some of these offices will still provide services through appointments and others will remain open while enforcing the 6-foot social distancing rule. Look for information about specific closures online.
The order does not cover federal buildings, local government buildings and tribal government facilities, nor does it apply to Oregon’s courts or the Legislature.
Will child care be available to those who have to work?
Child care facilities can remain open if they comply with new guidelines for operation. First the facilities are required to prioritize care for children of first responders and health care professionals.
Second, the children in the facilities must be placed into isolated groups of 10 or fewer children and not be allowed to mix with other groups. The children must be in the same groups each day.
Is travel allowed?
No. Oregonians are instructed to “minimize” travel, except to access the essential services mentioned above.
Think of this as the ultimate staycation.
How is this all enforced?
People violating the order can be charged with a Class C misdemeanor 401.990 — punishable by up to 30 days in jail and $1,250 fine.
Brown asked that Oregonians and Oregon businesses take responsibility for following the stay-home order. She said everything in the order is enforceable by law.
“But I don’t want to do that. Our law enforcement needs to be focused on real emergencies across the state,” she said.
When will it end?
This is unknown. The governor’s order does not have an end date, but given the outlook for the spread of coronavirus in Oregon, the stay-at-home requirements could be in place for a few weeks at least.
"There is a lot of uncertainty right now," Brown said. "I made the decision based on information I got from hospitals … epidemiologists and physicians. And I assume when they give us the 'all-clear,' we’ll move forward and certainly consider lifting the order.”
The goal of all of these state orders is to "flatten the curve" — a sudden spike in COVID-19 infections could overwhelm our health care systems. Instead, health officials and government leaders want to slow the spread of the virus, so there is enough time and there are sufficient resources to care for people.