But some fear a 'yo-yo' effect in Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas could cause another surge in infections.

PMG PHOTO: JOSEPH GALLIVAN - Many restaurants have increased outdoor dining to survive. Under new rules, Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties will allow limited indoor dining to resume for as long as new infections stay relatively low.Under relaxed state rules that kick in for Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas on Friday, Feb. 12, restaurants may resume limited indoor dining, people may resume indoor visits to long-term care facilities, and fitness and entertainment facilities can admit more people.

The relaxation announced Tuesday morning reflects a sustained 14-day decrease in the daily tally of reported results showing positive for COVID-19, according to an announcement by local health officials.

But officials cautioned people not to let down their guard in light of the virus' rapid mutation into a variety of strains, some of which are more contagious and for some of which vaccine effectiveness has not been determined.

""We can take these incremental steps because people have stepped up and done hard work. Our numbers have been dropping to reflect that," said Regional Health Officer Dr. Jennifer Vines in the announcement. "And even as we celebrate our successes, and our numbers are heading in the right direction, that trend is fragile."PMG PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Dr. Jennifer Vines, Tri-County Health Officer, speaking during a press conference last March concerning the COVID-19 outbreak.

Health departments for the three counties listed the following specific changes for businesses:

• Both outdoor and indoor visits will be allowed at long-term care facilities.

• Restaurants can operate at 25% capacity or 50 people eating indoors, whichever is smaller.

• Restaurants can accommodate up to 75 people eating outdoors.

• Fitness facilities may operate at 25% capacity or accommodate 50 people indoors, whichever is smaller.

• Entertainment facilities may operate at 25% capacity or accommodate 50 people indoors, whichever is smaller.

• Recreation and fitness facilities outdoors may accommodate a maximum of 75 people.

Washington County Health Officer Dr. Christina Baumann said "the virus is still circulating widely in our communities. Although we have started vaccinations, the supply is limited and most of our population remains unvaccinated. ... Until more people are vaccinated, we must continue to practice safety measures to protect our most vulnerable."

Under state rules, the region could be returned to the more restrictive risk level in two weeks if infections surge.

Clackamas County Public Health Officer Dr. Sarah Present said people need to keep doing their part. "We don't want to yo-yo back into 'Extreme Risk,' which would be unfortunate for the community."

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