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Phase I includes limited reopening of restaurant and bars as well as salons and retail businesses

CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Gov. Kate BrownGov. Kate Brown recently announced new details of her framework for reopening the Oregon economy, including new guidance for counties and businesses.

The guidance is the product of an engagement process with stakeholders, doctors, health experts, business owners and local officials to chart a path forward while keeping Oregonians healthy and safe. "Today, thanks to millions of Oregonians following the strict physical distancing orders I put in place, I am happy to say these sacrifices have prevented as many as 70,000 COVID-19 infections, and 1,500 hospitalizations in Oregon," Brown said during a Thursday press conference. "We are on track in meeting the goals that doctors and public health experts have laid out for us. And that means we now have the opportunity to begin rebuilding a safe and strong Oregon." There are now fewer than 100 COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state, and Oregon has established plans for increasing testing capacity, expanding contact tracing capability and building reserves of personal protective equipment. Brown emphasized that by taking steps gradually and carefully, and following science and data, Oregon can begin to reopen safely. "But let me be very clear: these choices are not easy; as we reopen parts of our economy, we know and expect that there may be an uptick in new coronavirus cases," she said. "That's why we have to be prepared in every single corner of the state, because as we've seen, an outbreak can occur anywhere."

Phase I Details Counties will be eligible to reopen additional business sectors if they can show a decline in COVID-19 or have fewer than five hospitalizations, have sufficient COVID-19 testing and contact tracing capability, establish plans for the isolation and quarantine of new cases, have the hospital capacity to handle any surge in COVID-19 cases and have enough personal protective equipment for health care workers.

Crook County has only one confirmed COVID-19 case to date. Counties that meet all of that criteria will be eligible to enter Phase I of reopening on May 15, pending approval of their application by the governor after recommendations from the Oregon Health Authority.

County Judge Seth Crawford said Thursday that the health department was ready to submit a comprehensive plan that matched the reopening requirements.

In Phase I, counties can reopen restaurants and bars for sit-down service, provided customers maintain physical distancing and servers wear masks. Personal care and services businesses, including barbers and salons, can reopen but will be required to collect trace contact information. Retail businesses can also reopen if physical distancing guidelines are followed.

In-person gatherings of up to 25 people will be allowed during this phase as well.

Counties must remain in Phase I for at least 21 days before becoming eligible to advance to Phase II, Brown said. However, if counties begin to see significant increases in COVID-19 cases or community spread, the Oregon Health Authority will work with local public health officials to evaluate what actions should be taken. Significant growth in COVID-19 spread could necessitate a county moving back from Phase I to a stay-home status. More details on Phases II and III are forthcoming. Brown also announced that large gatherings such as conventions, festivals, and major concerts and live audience sporting events will need to be canceled at least through September. She said that restarting events of this size will require a reliable treatment or prevention, like a vaccine, which is many months away. Further guidance on large events will be provided in the coming months.

The new guidance details emerge alongside several other changes to COVID-19 restrictions. On May 1, Brown lifted her order delaying non-urgent medical procedures, with safeguards in place for health care workers and patients. On May 5, she announced the limited reopening of some outdoor parks and recreation areas, including the boat ramps at Prineville Reservoir State Park.

This week, updated safety guidelines regarding transit, certain childcare, summer school, and summer camps and youth programs will be issued.


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