Clackamas County moves into 'moderate risk,' additional capacity at bars, restaurants, gyms opens Friday, Feb. 26.

PMG PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Chris Sjolin serves beer in Washington County. Businesses in Clackamas County are breathing an extra sigh of relief this week after Gov. Kate Brown ordered the county be reduced to "moderate risk" for COVID-19 restrictions. The move comes just two weeks after the county was moved out of the "extreme risk" category.

In the past two weeks, Clackamas County has gone from 779 confirmed cases to 383, basically cutting its numbers in half. The county also has dropped its case rate per 100,000 residents from 184 to 90. Test positivity also is down at just 2.6%.

Clackamas County is joined by its neighboring Washington County in being reduced to the moderate risk level along with Hood River, Linn, Malheur and Union counties. Multnomah County remains at high risk. Clackamas County's southern neighbor in Marion County was reduced from extreme risk to high.

"For the second time in a row, we are seeing great progress in stopping the spread of COVID-19 across Oregon and saving lives," Gov. Kate Brown said in a statement Tuesday, Feb. 23. "Oregonians continue to step up and make smart choices. While these county movements are welcome news, we must continue to take seriously the health and safety measures, especially as more businesses reopen and we start to get out more. As we see infection rates going down and vaccinations ramping up, now is not the time to let down our guard."

With that welcome news, starting this Friday, Feb. 26, local restaurants, gyms and recreation centers will be able to double their indoor capacity from what it was the previous two weeks.

"Friday morning, these businesses will be able to open their doors to the smaller of 50% total capacity or 100 people," said Nancy Bush, county disaster management director. "That's a major improvement."

Accordingly, facilities capable of hosting outdoor dining will be allowed a total capacity of 150 with eight people per table. Bars and restaurants will continue to be expected to close by 11 p.m.

Indoor and outdoor shopping centers will be allowed to operate at 75% of maximum occupancy.

Although the county is heading in the right direction in terms of case rates and test positivity, public health officials are stressing the message that just because the community is doing better doesn't mean to stop with all the basic guidance to social distance, wear masks, sanitize and stay home if you're sick.

"Infection rates are going down and vaccinations are slowly ramping up, but don't stop now," Bush said. "Please keep up your good work. Our public health experts tell all of us to continue to wear our face coverings, keep our physical distance, and avoid large indoor gatherings."

For more information on what's open in Clackamas County and general guidance for businesses, visit the Oregon Health Authority's website.

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