COVID-19: Oregon governor bans dine-in at all restaurants, bars
Gov. Kate Brown has banned all Oregon restaurants, bars and other food establishments from serving food inside their businesses for the next four weeks. All food must be served carry-out or via delivery. The restrictions begin Tuesday, March 17.
She also announced further restrictions on gatherings and events, issuing statewide cancelations on all events larger than 25 people.
In an announcement Monday, March 16, Brown said the restrictions are meant to keep the spread of COVID-19, a disease caused by the novel coronavirus, from spreading. Oregon already has dozens of cases, largely in Washington and Linn counties.
Brown has been weighing between closing bars and restaurants in recent days, but said she also considered instituting a curfew. In a brief statement on Monday morning, Brown said she was hesitant to close restaurants and bars outright, because of the need they fill for many rural communities.
But Monday afternoon, hours before the St. Patrick's Day holiday on March 17, Brown said she had to make the call.
"In a global pandemic, days are like weeks and every single hour things change," she said. "The actions we take today will save lives."
Oregon is one of several states to impose limitations on restaurants and bars. On Sunday, March 15, Washington, California, Ohio, Illinois and Massachusetts closed bars and restaurants in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus. New York City also banned dining in restaurants.
Banning mid-sized gatherings
Brown announced restrictions on gatherings and events for all events larger than 25 people.
Workplaces, grocery stores, pharmacies and other businesses are excluded, but Brown said people should try to avoid assembling in groups of 10 or more. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Sunday that people should avoid gatherings of more than 50 people.
Brown has asked all Oregon businesses to evaluate their business practices and to make changes to curb the spread of the infectious disease.
"Basically," Brown said, "can your job do the equivalent of restaurant takeout? If you can't, I strongly urge you to close your doors temporarily."
Establishments not compliant with the new orders will be subject to a misdemeanor, Brown said.
In a statement Monday morning, Brown said Oregonians should prepare for a prolonged period of so-called "social distancing."
"It may seem like we're in the middle of this crisis," Brown said. "But in terms of timeline and impact, we are just at the beginning. We must work together and support each other to get through this. Remember your humanity, your love for one another and our vulnerable neighbors and friends."
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