Some Oregon counties will be able to move into phase two reopening as soon as Friday, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said at a Wednesday press briefing. Brown outlined the details of phase two, which include allowing collegiate athletes to return to training as soon as mid-June and expanding the allowable size of gatherings.
Lane County is one of 28 counties in the state that have applied to enter phase two. Brown said she would announce which counties can move into phase two on Thursday.
Counties are eligible for phase two 21 days after entering phase one, Brown said. Phase two continues to relax some guidelines, including allowing restaurants and bars to stay open until midnight and allowing bowling alleys and movie theaters to reopen. Guidelines will shift from requiring remote office work to strongly recommending it, Brown said.
Lane County entered phase one on May 15. The county has had 78 positive COVID-19 test results and one presumptive positive as of June 3.
The number of people allowed to meet for social and civic purposes will increase to 50 when meeting indoors, and 100 outdoors, she said, provided 35 square feet of space can be accommodated for each person. Up to 250 people may gather for faith-based meetings if there is enough space, she said.
Oregon’s State Health Officer Dr. Dean Seidlinger said that phase two will last for “the next few months,” lasting through summer and possibly into the fall.
“Let me be clear — this cautious approach is saving lives all across the state of Oregon,” Brown said. Any reopening comes with risk, she said. “That’s just a fact of life now.”
Brown said she supports local jurisdictions wanting to pass ordinances requiring the public to wear face coverings in other settings.
Brown said that some hybrid learning may still be needed in schools in the fall, depending on the spread of COVID-19 in Oregon and other states, as well as the possibility of staggered schedules. She said that the state is working to get information out as quickly as possible regarding universities but did not provide a specific timeline.
“I suspect it won’t look like the traditional classroom setting,” Brown said.
OHA Director Patrick Allen said Oregon’s situation is “stable,” with Oregonians following guidelines and downward trends of COVID-19 impacts. OHA will distribute more than $11 million to local health departments and tribes to expand contact tracing, he said.
“I want to acknowledge that we cannot contain the coronavirus without doing something about the social inequities that fuel its spread,” Allen said. He said that the COVID-19 pandemic exposed “how far short we are from eliminating health inequity in our state.”
Brown stated that she is committed to putting historically underserved communities — including Black and Latinx communities — at the forefront of the state’s recovery plan.
Brown did not address if the protests would affect county reopenings. Brown said she believed it to be “critically important” that Oregonians exercise their right to free speech, in regards to the protests and demonstrations over the past week following the murder of George Floyd. She encouraged those going to wear masks, use hand sanitizer and practice social distancing. She said that she had not spoken with Multnomah County about the use of tear gas in Portland.
“I just commit to Oregonians that we will continue to make decisions based on science and data, informed by our medical advisory panel and epidemiologists and public health experts,” Brown said. “We are all in this together. Your actions really do matter, so I want to encourage you to be smart, be kind and continue to protect your friends, your families and your neighbors.”