Hillsboro Hops, Vancouver Canadians' max capacity reduced
It's one step forward, one step back for the Hillsboro Hops minor league baseball team after Oregon Governor Kate Brown announced that Washington County would be rolling back to "High Risk" status beginning this Friday, April 23.
Oregon is tightening restrictions on businesses and public activity in 10 additional counties, adding to the more than half of the state's counties now considered at high risk for COVID-19 transmission as the pandemic's fourth wave shows no sign of slowing.
Hops President K.L. Wombacher said that he and the organization were obviously hoping otherwise, but at the same time weren't caught off guard by the April 20 announcement.
"We were anticipating this given the rise in cases and metrics used to determine risk levels," Wombacher said in an email response to the News Times. "We were hopeful with the Governor's press conference Friday that the hospital count and death count would be the main metrics used and we wouldn't be moved, but we must have misinterpreted her comments."
The "high risk" designation will lower Ron Tonkin Field's maximum capacity to just 15 percent, down from the 25 percent allowed under the "moderate risk" designation. The Hillsboro stadium has a maximum capacity of 4,500 people in normal times, so 15 percent would allow for roughly 675 people in the stands.
Wombacher added that the organization hasn't heard from the Governor's office regarding today's or any potential proposed changes, but did say that they're obviously cooperating and are in any case happy to soon be again operating with fans.
"We are just following their guidelines and coordinating with Washington County Health and the City of Hillsboro," he said. "We've learned to pivot quickly and we don't get discouraged. We're thrilled to have fans back at Ron Tonkin Field."
Tuesday's announcement also means restaurants, bars, gyms and retail stores in Washington County will need to limit the number of people allowed indoors. People in Washington County, like every other county in high risk, too are ordered to limit private social gatherings to eight people or less.
"As we face more contagious variants and increased spread of COVID-19 in our communities, the best way to protect yourself and others is to get vaccinated," Brown said in a news release. "Until you, your family, your friends, and your neighbors are fully vaccinated, it's also critical that we all continue to wear masks, maintain physical distance, and stay home when sick."
The changes will also obviously affect the Vancouver Canadians franchise who are sharing Ron Tonkin Field with the Hops this season due to complications stemming from COVID-19 restrictions tied to crossing the Canadian border.
The Hops are scheduled to kickoff the 2021 season against Everett Tuesday, May 4, at Ron Tokin Field.
The Canadians will open their season at Tri-City, but will have their home-opener May 11, when they host the Spokane Indians.
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