Gov. Kate Brown has announced new preventative measures in an attempt to stem the rising number of COVID-19 coronavirus cases in Oregon.
All requirements take effect Friday, July 24.
The governor was accompanied by Dr. Dean Sidelinger, the state epidemiologist, at an announcement Wednesday.
"The COVID-19 virus is beginning to spread too quickly throughout Oregon, so it's time for further actions to stop the spread of this disease," she said. "Keep in mind that this is not an on-or-off switch. This disease is something that, for the time being, we must learn to live with.
"When we see the numbers rise, we must respond in turn."
The announcement was made on the same day that the Oregon Health Authority reported reported 264 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 and two new deaths from the virus. The new figures increase thestate total to 15,393 and raise the death toll to 264.
The three measures:
• Face coverings: Children age 5 and older must wear face coverings while in indoor public spaces and outdoors when they cannot maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet. Coverings are still recommended, but not required, for children ages 2 to 5. This requirement will apply in all school settings.
Coverings are required indoors in gyms, even while exercising, and outdoors when distancing cannot be maintained.
• Venue limits: The limit of people gathering at all indoor venues is lowered from 250 to 100 in all Phase 2 counties, and for restaurants and bars in all counties. The limit remains at 250 for outdoor gatherings. The limit remains at 10 for family or private gatherings. "We know that indoor gatherings pose a much higher risk than outdoors," she said.
• Earlier closures: Restaurants and bars in Phase 2 counties where limited indoor service is allowed must stop serving at 10 p.m., instead of midnight. This new requirement applies statewide.
"All of us changing our behavior in simple ways can prevent this tragedy in Oregon," Sidelinger said.
Brown said she expects she will hear critics on both sides.
"Some people will think these restrictions do not go far enough," Brown said. "They are legitimately worried about their family members, their friends and their neighbors. Others are going to hear these restrictions and think they go too far and are too onerous. Every business that has to close earlier or serve fewer customers will have to contend with even tighter margins to stay afloat."
Brown said state officials plan to update the county watch list later this week. The list consists of counties where infection rates have increased substantially. Some counties could come off the list, she said, but others may be added.
The three counties in the Portland metropolitan area are in Phase 1.
She also said there is a potential for 14-day quarantines for visitors from states with high infection rates, but she wants to consult with neighboring states beforehand. Some states have already taken this action.
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