Oregon banning select indoor recreation for two weeks amid pandemic surge


Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced on Friday she is placing a two-week moratorium on recreational activities as COVID-19 spreads throughout the state.

The statewide moratorium takes effect on November 18 and lasts through December 2.

It effectively limits bars and restaurants to take-out service only while gyms, movie theaters, business offices, and museums will be shut down.

Grocery and retail stores are capped at 75% capacity and Brown said curbside pickup service is encouraged.

Indoor worship services are also capped at 25 people and 50 people when outdoors.

Visits to nursing homes will also end on Wednesday along with outdoor recreational areas like zoos and gardens.

Social interactions, indoors or otherwise, are now limited to six people from two households.

Brown said Multnomah County will be under the guidelines for up to four weeks, and other high-risk regions will likely face longer restrictions.

The two-week moratorium shares many of the restrictions included in Brown's stay-at-home order from this past March.

This time, the governor is choosing to keep hair salons, barber shops, and massage parlors open in counties that are in Phase 1 of reopening.

Elementary schools, higher education, and childcare services will see no changes under the order. City parks and playgrounds will also remain open.

Oregon authorities have largely delegated enforcing public safety to the public, although businesses can and have faced penalties for shirking health guidelines.

Brown has largely avoided issuing another stay-at-home order much like Gov. Jay Inslee up north in Washington state. Her orders on Friday come as close as the state has been in recent months to a full lockdown.

The state has been setting new records for daily cases for the past week.

The Oregon Health Authority reported 1,122 new cases on Thursday alone and the first time new daily cases counts have surpassed 1,000.

On Friday, the agency reported 1,076 new cases and seven more deaths from the virus.

State officials say colder weather is likely bringing people indoors for social gatherings.

OHSA has already received more than 11,000 complaints related to pandemic workplace safety since March, though few resulted in citations.

On Friday, state epidemiologist Dr. Dean Sidelinger said the spread of the pandemic boils down to social gatherings—a talking point pushed by the Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association.

ORLA, a longtime critic of the state health orders, called on Brown in a letter released on Friday to extend the commercial eviction moratorium and $75 million in industry relief.

“We were already hearing from members they were concerned about what another shutdown would do to their chances of staying open,” said ORLA CEO and President Jason Brandt. “This latest round of regulations focused on restaurants will trigger an unknown amount of permanent closures impacting the livelihoods of thousands of Oregon families.”

The statewide commercial and eviction moratorium goes through the end of the year.

The state has now seen 746 deaths from COVID-19 and 53,779 total since the state reported its very first COVID-19 case on February 28.

Oregon Health Authority officials said they intend to announce more details related to Brown's orders sometime next week.

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